School Committee votes to move start time later at Northampton High beginning in 2014
The Northampton school board voted at its meeting Thursday night in favor of a later high school start time between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. to be implemented by fall of 2014. CAROL LOLLIS
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The Northampton school board voted at its meeting Thursday night in favor of a later high school start time between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. to be implemented by fall of 2014. CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — Putting to rest more than five years of debate on the issue, the School Committee voted 7-2 Thursday for a later start time at Northampton High School, effective no later than September 2014.
Voting in favor of moving the high school bell from 7:30 a.m. to a time between 8 and 8:30 a.m. were Mayor David J. Narkewicz, chairman of the School Committee, and members Downey Meyer, Stephanie Pick, Andrew Shelffo, Blue DuVal, Alden Bourne and Howard Moore.
Committee Vice Chairman Edward Zuchowski and member Lisa Minnick voted against changing the start time. Board member Michael Flynn was absent.
The board’s motion directs the superintendent to implement a later-start plan by no later than the start of the 2014 school year.
The vote on the start time occurred shortly after 11 p.m., following a lengthy discussion among board members and numerous opinions voiced on both sides of the issue during the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting.
Among those who spoke was Bryan Lombardi, an associate principal at Northampton High who will succeed Principal Nancy Athas when she retires in July.
Lombardi told the school board the high school faces “more important issues of concern and priority” than a later start time.
“If you vote yes I urge you to allow me to work with the teachers” on an implementation plan, he said.
Several school board members cited Lombardi’s comments as the reason they wanted to delay changing the school bell until 2014 and also leave it to administrators to set a specific start to the school day.
“I think we should give them the latitude to work between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.,” Meyer said. “We don’t want them to have to come back to the committee with different people sitting here.”
Last month, a study panel recommended a high school start time of 8:15 a.m. beginning this fall. That plan would be accomplished by shortening the school day by 10 minutes and reducing passing times between classes by two minutes.