BPS to host meetings on controversial new school start times

Facing pushback from parents, advocacy groups, and some city councillors, the Boston Public Schools are open to reassessing their proposed start and end times for the 2018-2019 school year. The school department will host 10 public meetings to solicit feedback over this week.

In a letter to BPS families, Superintendent Tommy Chang said he stands by the new policy, which calls for phased start times across the city's 125 public schools beginning every 15 minutes between 7:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.

“BPS believes the start and end times policy is a sound one,” Chang wrote in the letter. “We are committed to creating an equitable bell times schedule that helps all students reach their full potential.”

The policy, passed by the School Committee on Dec. 6, prioritizes “starting secondary schools after 8:00 am., dismissing elementary school students before 4:00 p.m., prioritizing students with special needs and medical issues, reinvestment into classrooms, and before and after school programming,” according to Chang’s letter. “BPS plans to adhere to this policy.”

Schedules will be finalized in mid-January, Chang wrote, after the meeting feedback is reviewed at the Jan. 10 school committee meeting.

Though the school committee meeting and any possible bell time adjustments will take place after the Jan. 3 priority registration period begins, Chang said families will be able to amend their choices until the priority period ends on Feb. 9.

Meetings will take place from 6 to 8 p.m., including a Dec.19 meeting at the Mattapan Early Elementary School and a Dec. 20 meeting at McKeon Post.

Full lists of meeting schedules and proposed start times are available at the BPS website.