To the editor:
We were disappointed to read the letter on Jan. 27 from Anne Miles and Kara McLeod regarding the proposed start and stop times of the Newburyport schools. While it is obvious that the budget issues facing our schools are critical, we feel that the start and stop times are too. They are two separate issues and being in support of one does not mean that you aren’t in support of others.
And while the authors of the Jan. 27 letter seem to think that this is not an “important” matter, let us briefly tell you why so many of us think it is:
1. First and foremost — research proves that adolescent kids have a natural change in their sleep patterns and begin to stay up later. With school starting at the proposed 7:20, some students will need to get the bus as early as 6:30 a.m. As students age, their activities and practices times get relatively later, which makes it hard for students to get the recommended 9-plus hours sleep that will allow them to maximize concentration and learning. Boosting peak learning time for this age group will only help them with knowledge retention, test performance, healthier life style, to name a few.
2. A dismissal time at 1:50 for the middle school will leave an entire population of unsupervised children with working parents for many hours in the afternoon.
3. A start time of 8:45 for elementary students will mean that families with working parents will have to find before-school care at their cost.
4. A dismissal at 3:45 for the elementary school will hurt local after-school businesses, i.e., dance, art, karate, music schools, etc., who cater to the younger ages, as they will now have a smaller window in which to offer classes.
These and other reasons are why so many of us think that this issue is important and worth our attention. No one can deny that there are many issues facing our city and school district, but why not strive for excellence in every aspect when we can? If a change is to be made, why not make the change for the better?
Alex Coir and Tara Sullivan