Boston Public Schools announced on Friday that it would delay the previously-approved changes to school start times following parent backlash.
Earlier this month the Boston School Committee unanimously approved changing school start times, pushing back the first bell for high schoolers and making elementary schools start earlier so that they had an earlier dismissal.
The move sparked backlash from parents, primarily those with kids in elementary school. Many families were scheduled new start times two hours earlier than their current first bell, prompting concerns about how working parents can adjust to the change and the possible increased cost of after-school care.
The Boston NAACP and other groups also spoke out about how the changes would disproportionately harm families of color. After those comments, BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang wrote in a letter to families that the district would take public concerns into account.
On Friday, Chang sent another letter to the BPS community announcing that he would not implement new school start times in 2018.
“Over the past few weeks, we have heard from families, staff, and stakeholders that there are concerns with the implementation of the new start and end times policy,” Chang wrote. “After reflecting on this feedback, we understand that while the new schedule would achieve our goal of supporting academic success for all ages, the shifts to many school start times caused a more significant disruption to family schedules than we intended. That is why I have decided not to implement the new start and end times that we have proposed for the 2018-2019 school year.”
In the coming months, Chang added, BPS will continue its efforts on the issue, including more research and fostering engagement opportunities with families.
“This includes developing a new schedule of start and end times for future school years that is grounded in equity and better meets the needs of our students and families,” Chang wrote. “We must share a collaborative spirit, and work together to find solutions to repair the institutional inequities that persist.”