The Southampton school district is no longer considering a later start to the school day for the 2017-2018 academic year, an option that was open until the beginning of February when the Board of Education voted against it. Major changes in faculty and lack of community input has stalled the proposal.
The school day for students at the high school would begin 30 minutes later, according to the proposal introduced one year ago by Dr. Brian Zahn, principal of Southampton high school. The delayed start time was an effort to improve students’ academic and physical performance, Darren Phillips, Athletic Director of Southampton high school said.
“The board of education was asked to look into a later start time because we see a lot of tardiness,” Zahn said. The committee behind the proposal concluded that by adjusting the start time of class, they would see an increase in academic achievement and overall performance in school.
A major factor in the decision not to implement the later start time was the lack of community input especially from the elementary school, Dr. Nicholas Dyno, superintendent of Southampton Public Schools said. Adjusting the start time of the high school would impact the middle and elementary school. Daycare issues and working parents needed to be accounted for in the decision to change the school start Zahn said.
“It was the parents who wrote to us initially and requested this,” Dyno said. “This matter has been brought up several times over the past several years,” he said. Teachers, custodians, transportation officials, and directors from different school buildings attended committee meetings to look at all aspects of the initiative Dyno said.
Sag Harbor School District is one of two school districts on long Island to implement a ten minute later start.
“The Board of Education definitely sees the importance of this for kids,” Katy Graves, Superintendent of Sag Harbor Schools, said. This transition that began last year, set precedent for an even later start time. The Board of Education is proposing to delay the start time further from the current time of 7:35 am to 8 am.
This has recently led to more discussions about when the school day should start. “School day and year was structured around an agricultural society,” Mark Alter, professor of educational psychology at New York University, said. “Maybe it is time to take another look with some options.”
Students at Southampton High School say they would appreciate some options. A later start is favorable for senior Julia Kepczynska. Her first class of the day is Advanced Placement Physics.
“I find myself struggling to stay awake during the period, so a later start time is something most of us would love to have, ” Kepczynska said.
For officials at the school, there are more options to consider. The committee was concerned with how many times and how often students would have to leave their last class early in order to participate in athletic programs.
“Students might miss 15 minutes of a class and they [the board of education] ended up not making the changes,” Darren Phillips, Athletic Director, said. Athletics was not the only major factor in the board of education’s decision to not implement the later start time for the upcoming school year.
The elementary school principal and the transportation director are two major positions that are changing for the 2017-2018 school year.
“Because these two positions are shifting we don’t want this change happening right away” says Principal Zahn.
The idea of a later start time has been met with optimism. Until these changes are implemented, the morning bell will continue to ring at 7:30 am.