Boston Public Schools to Change Start Times in 2018

The new start times aim to promote better sleep patterns in high schoolers and to allow elementary students to walk home in the daylight year-round.

Boston Public Schools to Change Start Times in 2018

Boston Public School start times have not changed since 1990.

The Boston School Board Committee announced Wednesday that it unanimously voted to change start times for its public elementary and high schools.

Boston Schools Superintendent Dr. Tommy Chang says the changes will take effect next school year and include later start times for high schools and earlier start times for elementary schools, according to CBS Local. The official schedule can be found here.

School leaders’ ideal scenario was to have elementary schools start earlier so students could walk home in the daylight, even in the dead of winter, and to have high schools start later so teens could get more sleep.

A growing body of research has found that later start times for high schoolers promotes better sleep patterns which improve test scores.

School officials have worked with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the last 18 months to optimize school start times for the 56,000 students in the Boston Public School District while addressing all parental and staff concerns. It was left in the hands of MIT to determine the mathematically proven best case scenario for the district.

“We believe based on some initial scenarios we’ve run, that we can get up to 80% of our high schools to start after 8 o’clock, and that’s what the community has asked for, that’s what the research says, and I think we can pull it off,” says Chang.

The MIT researchers used hundreds of computers to run an algorithm to determine the most effective way to rearrange the start and end times.

“[The algorithm] allows us to sort of take 1.8 octodazillion possibilities, and reduce it to a few hundred thousand, and then those can be explored more thoroughly to find the one that best suits BPS’ policy goals,” says Arthur Delarue of the MIT Operations Research Center.

There are 125 public schools in Boston whose start times have ranged from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. since 1990. The committee believes standardizing start times will help the city use school resources more efficiently, particularly school bus transportation, allowing more funds to be reinvested into the classroom.

Officials say another possible positive side effect of the change is the alleviation of rush hour traffic with buses being on the road later in the morning and earlier in the afternoon.

BPS also recently lengthened the school day of 57 of its schools by 40 minutes to increase instruction time. This led to a start time of 9:30 a.m. and dismissal of 4:10 p.m. at some elementary schools, which many parents and teachers felt was too late.

Last year, school officials conducted a district-wide survey of 7,500 students’ families and 2,200 teachers before partnering with MIT to find a solution.

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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