NEWBURYPORT — School officials are moving forward with adjusted start times for 2020-21 following a unanimous vote of approval by the School Committee on Monday night.

 While Newburyport High School students will start class 45 minutes later, students at Edward G. Molin Upper Elementary School will begin 25 minutes earlier. Students at Rupert A. Nock Middle School will start 15 minutes later.  

The idea for later start times began about six or so years ago with parents and others citing health concerns about how early students were waking up. Some of the major concerns about the idea included how it would affect transportation — the cost of it, especially — and how it would interfere with after-school sports and activities.

The strategic plan moves Newburyport High School's start time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and its dismissal time from 2:21 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Molin and Nock will move to a schedule of 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Previously, Molin started at 8:10 a.m. and dismissed at 2:40 p.m., while Nock started at 7:30 a.m. and dismissed at 2 p.m.

Francis T. Bresnahan Elementary School's 8:20 a.m. start time and 2:50 p.m. dismissal time will remain in place.

With the new plan, school officials hope transportation will run smoother. Bresnahan will have its own buses each day and Molin students will no longer have to wait on buses in the Bresnahan parking lot while students are dismissed.

Superintendent Sean Gallagher has been working on a proposal since he first came aboard in July 2018, working extensively with people such as Newburyport High School Athletic Director Kyle Hodsdon to come up with a plan that works for all. 

Following nearly six years of conversation and mixed feelings, school officials are pleased with the outcome.

School Committee member Nick deKanter said all the previous work by school officials and parents created a "jigsaw puzzle" and the superintendent was able to "put the pieces together."

"I just want to say thanks to Sean for doing in, basically, a year and a half what we couldn't do, for whatever reason, in six years," said committee member Brian Callahan.

 Staff writer Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at halterisio@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.

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