Process of looking at later high school start times moves forward

Dear School Community Members:

I want to provide you with an update on the process of considering a later start time for Niskayuna High School. We embarked on this nearly two years ago with a Start Times Committee that included parents, students, teachers and administrators.

In August, the committee reported on its work to the Board of Education. Following the presentation, the Board charged me with convening the necessary work groups to identify what it would take to implement a later start time in September 2020 – a year from now.

The committee reviewed research on start times that showed there are academic, mental health, overall wellness benefits associated with later high school start times. For its work, the group adopted an 8:30 a.m. start time in line with recommendations from the American Pediatric Association.

The committee did significant work related to the impact on transportation, athletics, and music as well as potential adjustments to the high school schedule that would lessen the impact on what time the day can end. The committee was also guided by outreach to staff and families, including through Thoughtexchange and Spring 2019 focus groups.

If you are looking for more information, you can view the committee’s August report to the Board here.

Our next step is to build on the work of the committee by establishing a detailed implementation plan, including our approach to transportation, the high school schedule, middle school music and athletics, as well as to examine any costs associated with this. I want to let you know that the change to transportation that may be required could have some impact on the other levels start and end times.

District work groups in these areas will begin soon, and I expect to report back to the Board in January.

Given the benefits of more sleep for our adolescent students, it is very important that we do the proper planning to find out what it will take to make this change. I thank the Start Times Committee for the time and energy it took to bring the process to this point.

We will keep you informed about this decision-making process. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at ctangorra@niskyschools.org.

Sincerely,

Cosimo Tangorra, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools