High School Start Time Questionnaire

High School Start Time

2017 School Committee Candidate Questionnaire

 Kathy Marchi

Candidate for School Committee Ward 1

This questionnaire was designed by NewtonHighSchools.Com, which is a group of Newton parents who are concerned about high school start times and is unaffiliated with Newton Public Schools. All candidates’ answers will be made publicly available. 

  • Regarding your familiarity with adolescent sleep issues, please check as many of the following that apply.

____ I attended the School Committee Forum on High School Start Times at either Newton North or Newton South.

_X__  I have talked to medical researchers or physicians about the impact of high school start times on high school students’ health and well-being.

_X__ I have read peer-reviewed scientific research on the impact of high school start times on high school students’ health and well-being.

_X__ I have read news reports that cover peer-reviewed scientific research on the impact of high school start times on high school students’ health and well-being.

_X__ My adolescent’s sleep habits are consistent with the medical evidence.

____  None of the above.

Comments?

I fully support changing the start times at both high schools to 8:30am.  The science is indisputable and as a parent of 2 children who were actively involved in high school sports and many activities, I also understand the issue personally.

I am pleased that the School Committee voted to accept the recommendations of the Superintendent and the High School Start Time Working Group that the schedules at both high schools be adjusted so that a later start time could be implemented.  I was also happy to learn that in addition to a later start time, this schedule change will allow room in student schedules for much-needed breaks and opportunities to practice meditation and other de-stressing skills.

I am familiar with the American Pediatrics Association’s position on this issue, have read the Rand study on the upstream economic benefits to a later start time, and was happy to see the New York Times highlight the economic and personal benefits to later start time in an article just last month.

Professionally and personally, I have been devoted to supporting students and families in the areas of mental health and social-emotional learning.  I was the Director of The Newton Partnership which focused on the non-academic needs of students, provided program opportunities for youth as well as educational programs for parents/guardians and collaborated with more than 20 youth agencies and organizations in Newton. Additionally, I was a member of NewtonCares, a citywide coalition focused on mental health for all residents including students; I am a QPR, suicide prevention trainer; I was an advisor to the Youth Commission; and was a member of the Newton Public Schools Social-Emotional Learning Department where I oversaw the Youth Mental Health First Aid project and assisted in bringing SEL practices to afterschool programs and parents.

  • Please rank the following statements, where 1 is the highest priority and 8 is the lowest priority.

_3__   The NPS should make it a priority to start high school at 8:30 AM or later.

_2__   The NPS should make it a priority to start high school at 8:30 AM or later and the change should be implemented as soon as possible.

_4__   The NPS should make it a priority to foster more programs and curriculum that encourage diversity and encourage students to embrace diversity.

_7__   The NPS should make it a priority to foster more STEM programs.

_8__   The NPS should make it a priority to decrease class sizes.

_5__   The NPS should make it a priority to maintain class sizes.

_1__   The NPS should make it a priority to increase focus on Social Emotional Learning.

_6__   The NPS should make it a priority to more carefully monitor equity differences in the district.

Comments?

NPS should indeed make it a priority to start high school at 8:30am or later and the change should be implemented as soon as possible just as we must continue to prioritize our focus on Social Emotional Learning and mental health.  These priorities are deeply connected, with start time being a critical component of overall student well-being.

My experience, including the citywide partnerships I have developed, will serve me well on the School Committee as I believe that the issues impacting all of our students–adequate sleep, high levels of stress and anxiety, social-emotional learning—should be of concern to all in our community. In fact, I strongly believe that we must partner with the City to address this change as it is a city-wide health issue and is not the responsibility of the school system to fund alone.

  • Which of the following statements most closely describes your opinion? If you agree with more than one statement, rank the statements where 1 is the highest priority and 5 is the lowest priority.

____ The decision to start or not start high school later is complicated. The concerns of various parties must be considered and respected before a decision is made.

____ The School Committee has a role to encourage the NPS to act quickly on latter high school start times, even if it means some stakeholders might disagree.

____ The School Committee needs to provide their judgement and expertise to insure that the move to a later start time is not associated with embarrassing glitches such at sports game cancellations or bus scheduling snafus.

____ The School Committee needs to formally commit to start high school later as soon as possible. The details can be addressed later.

____ The School Committee should pursue a later high school time to the extent that budget considerations are met.

Comments?

I am running for School Committee because I believe passionately that we must do more to address the mental health and social-emotional needs of all of our students.  We have come a long way—and there is more to be done.  Specifically, on the issue of later high school start times, I want to ensure that the commitment the School Committee and School Department has made to change to an 8:30am start time will, in fact, occur. 

I also have experience managing budgets and will bring that expertise to all of my School Committee work.  This will be crucial as we face a variety of budgetary trade-offs going forward.