School committee members call for board to ‘revisit’ bell times


After four hours of often angry parent testimony, two School Committee members urged the board to “revisit” early start times that are set to take effect next school year, to the applause of parents.

“I think we do have to take this back and reconsider this,” said School Committee member Michael Loconto.

No decision was made on when or if another vote would take place.

Superintendent Tommy Chang said his staff take all of it into consideration.

“The School Committee passed a strong policy. There are challenges with the early start times,” Chang said. “We have a number of meetings this week. I’m meeting with principals about start times. … We’re going to take everything into consideration.”

School committee member Miren Uriarte said she hopes administrators can rework the policy to help parents.

“There’s a difference between what we voted on last week to what you are complaining about,” Uriarte said. “My recommendation is that we take the serious recommendations that we have heard and rethink through whether this makes sense to be implemented in September.”

After hours of testimony, School Committee member Jeri Robinson said she hopes to hear more.

“We need to understand that we are hearing from the community as a whole. It needs to be more voices. More than the 10,000 we heard,” she said, citing emails and phone calls.

School Committee member Regina Robinson said she was moved by parents of special needs children.

“We really do need to revisit what it means to engage our parents more,” she said. “the implementation plan is something we need to think through clearly.”

Hundreds of angry parents packed the meeting last night, blasting the city for forcing elementary school kids to start class earlier next year — with some saying it may force them to move out.

“Parents are already stating, ‘I’m going to have to leave,’ ” said Erin Birmingham, a Manning School parent. “Your algorithm does not value our kids. Your algorithm doesn’t work. I am hereby refusing your initial offer. … Fix it!”

Eighty-four percent of the 125 city schools are getting new start times next year after MIT researchers plugged in an algorithm to map it all out. The change mainly flipped start times between high schools and elementary schools so younger kids are now reporting to school before 8  a.m.

But it caught many parents off guard; they say the process gives them no options for after-school care and puts…



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