BPS responds to parent pushback

Yawu Miller | 12/13/2017, 7:29 a.m.
Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang emailed a letter to parents yesterday touting positive feedback from high school communities, while ...
BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. Banner photo

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang emailed a letter to parents yesterday touting positive feedback from high school communities, while acknowledging the fierce pushback from elementary school parents.

(Full text of letter appears at end of this post)

Notably, the letter gives no assurance that BPS is willing to budge from the 7:15 a.m. start times many elementary parents say would force them to wake kindergarteners up at or before 6 a.m. Apparently the more than 6,700 parents who signed a petition have not made a dent in Chang’s resolve to push forward with the plan.

In his letter, Chang assures parents that the department is “deeply committed to minimizing any disruptions these changes may cause,” and offers somewhat of an intercession for unsympathetic employers:

"BPS is happy to provide parents, guardians, and students with letters to employers notifying them of a school scheduling change and explaining why this may necessitate a change of working hours," the letter reads. "For this, please email starttimes@bostonpublicschools.org."

Also in the FAQ section of the BPS webpage on start times:

• We are working with the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, the YMCA of Greater Boston, the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, and a number of community-based organizations to provide expanded before- and after-school care that will be custom-tailored to each individual school’s needs. This additional programming will be designed to support parents and families impacted by the new start times. The district is committed to reinvesting a portion of the savings created by the new start and end times into expanding before- or after-school programming where needed.

For parents unable to work with the changed times, there's always the option of changing schools:

• We realize that in some cases, the only option for families may be to change schools. For more information on this process, please visit a BPS Welcome Center, its website, bostonpublicschools.org/welcomeservices, or call 617-635-9010. Please also consider attending the BPS School Showcase on Saturday, December 9, at TD Garden; the event begins at 9:00 am and ends at 1:00 pm. For more information, visit bostonpublicschools.org/registrationevents.

Additionally, BPS officials are planning a series of ten meetings next Monday through Thursday, giving community members a window to offer further comment.

Chang's letter:

December 12, 2017

Dear Boston Public Schools Families:

Last Thursday, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) released the new start times at all BPS schools for the 2018-19 school year, which can be found online at bostonpublicschools.org/starttimes. This work is the result of 18 months of comprehensive analysis and community input. Our goal was to thoughtfully and equitably restructure school start times to create schedules that are more conducive for student learning.

Since then, we have heard from many school communities who are pleased with the new start times and appreciate the benefits this work will have system-wide on improving student outcomes. We’ve also heard from others who have shared concerns over the new bell times.

Please know that my entire leadership team is sensitive to all feedback and has heard your voices loud and clear. We understand the impacts that adjustments to your children’s school day can have on your family’s schedule. We are also deeply committed to minimizing any disruptions these changes may cause.