Boston School Committee Approves New Start and End Times

Many school students in Boston will soon be hopping on the school bus in the morning and starting their school day later under district-wide start time changes unanimously approved by the school committee Wednesday.

The Boston School Committee voted on a policy that would change the start and end times for students at elementary and high schools beginning next school year.

Of the 125 schools in the district, 105 will have different bell times. Families can find a list of all start and end times here.

The new policy prioritizes high schools starting after 8 a.m. and having elementary schools dismiss students before 4 p.m. Right now, many elementary school students end their day around 4 p.m., which puts buses on Boston roadways during the evening rush hour.

“National research suggests that moving high schools to later times has a dramatic effect on their academic outcomes, it will also mean that elementary school students, more than today, we’ll be able to dismiss prior to 4 p.m.,” said Boston Public Schools Chief of Operations John Hanlon.

"I think it’s good for the kids so they don’t have to be stuck in traffic and get home after hours and be hungry on the bus and stuff, I think it’s pretty good," said one parent, Aracelis Trinidad, who was happy with the changes.

Parents at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in West Roxbury, however, were not happy with the news they received. They learned their school's start and dismissal times would stay the same.

Students will continue to be released at 4 p.m., which parents say is too late.

"At the end of the day, it's a crunch to get your kids to practice, or get them home, get them to do their homework, get a meal in them," said Masai King.

Laura Severse was hoping the day would end earlier, and start earlier for her two kids at Kilmer.

"It's awful, they're starting at 9:30, which is way too late in the morning for younger children," said Severse.

Boston made the policy change after the school committee said they took into account more than 16,000 responses from community members and staff over an 18-month period. They also utilized the help of an MIT research team that specializes in optimization.

Some parents are concerned the start time changes could complicate already tricky drop-off and pick-up schedules.

"Some parents have to go to work early, maybe they don’t have time to bring their kid to school and get to work on time," said Grandparent Haynes Paul. 

The team from MIT will continue to work with Boston Public Schools on finalizing models that will lead to new school schedules for 2018-2019. The new schedules will be announced sometime on Thursday afternoon.

"For those families that are seeing a change in their school schedule that would impact their work lives, we’re also trying to work closely with schools so that they have before and after school programs in place," said Hanlon.

Students will be bringing home notices on the changes in their backpacks Friday. 

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