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Are Our Kids Getting Enough Sleep? Board Discusses School Start Time and More

studentsleepIn the wake of a new law in California that will shift the opening of state high schools to no earlier than 8:30 am, the Scarsdale School Board re-opened a discussion of school hours at their meeting on Monday November 4.

Why would the district consider a proposed schedule change?

Here are the facts:

-A 2017 study from the CDC found that only a quarter of high school students reported getting the recommended eight hours of sleep.

-The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recommended that children aged 6–12 years should regularly sleep 9–12 hours per 24 hours and teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours.

-Children and adolescents who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behavior.

-The American Academy of Pediatrics, which backed the California cited studies that found links between more sleep from later start times to better school performance and better health among teens.

California is not the first district to address the sleep issue. Seattle took a similar step in 2016 when they announced a reorganization of school start times: Elementary schools started earlier, while most middle and all of the district’s 18 high schools shifted their opening bell almost an hour later — from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. The schedule change took more than a year to implement as it affected transportation needs and the schedules for after school programs.

Does Scarsdale have it wrong? At the high school, the first bell rings at 7:55 am, and classes at Scarsdale Middle School begin at 8:10 am. The elementary schools begin at either 8:2 or 8:35 am. That means that high school in Scarsdale class begins 30 to 45 minutes earlier than mandated under the new schedules in California and Seattle.

Board member Chris Morin raised the issue at the October 21 meeting of the Scarsdale Board of Education, and on November 4 it was put on the agenda. Specifically, the Board and administration discussed whether or not school start times warranted research and further consideration and should be formally studied this year.

Dr. Hagerman noted that similar legislation to delay start times had failed in some states and passed in others. He said the “research is clear on the benefits of sleep,” but that was only a starting point for the conversation. He suggested the district look at other districts that are the same size as Scarsdale for an apple to apple comparison and to find out if other Westchester school districts want to get involved in the research. He said the PT Council was interested in studying this issue.scottJoe DeCrescenzo and Scott Silberfein

Board member Alison Singer suggested the district confer with Assemblywoman Amy Paulin to find out if other districts in the state are investigating this and School Board President Scott Silberfein said that the Nanuet and Tappan Zee Schools Districts have already implemented a later start time. Dr. Hagerman raised the concern that later start times could affect working parents, student transportation and the after-school sports program.

About the decision to study this issue, Board Vice President Pam Fuehrer said she was concerned about the existing workload for the administration and the board who are engaged in collective bargaining and the implementation of the strategic plan. She said she saw this as a wellness issue. However, Board member Karen Ceske said this issue has been “percolating in the district for years” and she thought “we should bring it to the table and start the work.” Carl Finger said he had a sense that “this would not overburden the staff, “and that “this was “the first step in a marathon.” Dr. Hagerman said he felt comfortable “putting out some feelers,” and he thought the district should spend more time on this once they had more information.

It appeared that the administration would make researching this issue a formal priority and put it back on the agenda after they have more information.

Middle School Comfort Station

During the public comments portion of the meeting Bob Harrison spoke at length in favor of the construction of a comfort station at the middle school and encouraged Scarsdale students to apply to Penn State. Later at the meeting, the board approved a resolution to move forward with the planning. Specifically, the resolution authorized the SEQRA review and authorized the administration to draft a Memorandum of Understanding with the Village of Scarsdale outlining terms and conditions including but not limited to: (1) SEQRA compliance; and (2) a license agreement related to construction, funding and operation, use and maintenance of the Comfort Station.”

Purchasing

The Board discussed whether or not they could change their purchasing policy to allow purchase of textbooks via Amazon or other providers not currently on the list of vendors approved by New York State.

Lights at Butler Field

The Board approved two gifts from Maroon and White for a total of $48,025 for architectural and engineering fees for the new lights at Butler Field. This represents 75% of those fees. The Board thanked Maroon and White and asked them to begin the work.

Dinner1Lauren Barton and student government representative Lisa Thurman.Community Dinner

Prior to the meeting, the Scarsdale High School student government hosted a community dinner with food from local restaurants. Proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. See photos from the dinner above.

Questions from the LWVS

Also during public comments, Leah Dembitzer, President of the LWVS posed the following questions on behalf of the league:

Safety and Security

1. Does the Board plan to consider how recent enhancements and changes in surveillance, including new security cameras at the elementary schools, affect student privacy and student rights?

2. Will the Director of Security position be evaluated by the Board of Education? Will the Director of Security position continue to be a consultant position in the next school year?

3. How have increased security measures affected the culture of community at the schools? Aside from building and district safety committee meetings, is there a process for the Board and Administration to solicit ongoing feedback from teachers, parents, students and the community at large?

4. According to the document entitled “In-Process, District-Wide Security-Related Improvements,” there is a list of some social/ emotional initiatives that have been implemented related to a culture of kindness and to identify bullying. However, is there a new, additional social/ emotional plan or initiative in place to address how increased security itself may affect student well-being and stress? Specifically to address how lockdown drills or false alarm drills may affect student stress, wellness and the overall school experience.

Strategic PlanJeanneCooperJeanne Cooper serving Italian food.

5. I know that Dr. Hagerman mentioned that Strategic Plan will be discussed tomorrow with teachers at Superintendent Conference Day. However, are there any other plans to convene focus groups of parents, teachers and students related to the further honing and implementation of the Strategic Plan?

Board Community Engagement/ Communications

6. When is the Board’s Community Engagement sub-committee meeting and what are its goals for this year? **I know that Pam mentioned that there is a meeting in November, however, I wasn't able to hear the exact date of the meeting. Thank you.

7. Is increased Advocacy on issues that directly impact the Scarsdale School community, one of the Board’s goals for the year?

Watch the meeting here

Musicians

JaneTrustee Jane Veron (center) with Jessica Weiss Ainsberg and Veron's daughter Anna.

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