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Northampton School Committee to review changing start times at all city schools

The Northampton School Committee will hold a special meeting at 7:15 p.m. Dec. 5 at JFK Middle School to discuss changing the school start time at all city schools.

Committee members will review proposals for a later start time at Northampton High School that also involve changing start times at the middle and elementary schools. In addition, they will discuss the possibility of adding 20 minutes to the elementary school day. Such a change would require negotiations with the Northampton Association of School Employees.

The special meeting was scheduled in response to concerns voiced earlier this month by elementary school parents that posted agendas and public forums on the high school start time issue did not include mention of a change in the elementary school bell.

School Committee Vice Chair Stephanie Pick said the two issues are linked in proposals developed by Superintendent Brian Salzer for moving the NHS start time from 7:30 a.m. to either 8:15 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. Both proposals call for lengthening the elementary school day by 20 minutes.

“In order to make sense with the buses, the two issues are tied,” Pick said.

While school leaders have been talking for some time about a longer school day for the elementary schools, “I don’t think those proposals have ever been presented to the community,” Pick said.

The School Committee was scheduled to vote on the high school start time proposals in November. Pick declined to speculate on whether such a vote would be taken next month.

“The start time issue is complicated and complicated decisions require an extensive process,” she said. “We’re trying to be as thoughtful as we can be and to keep focused on what’s best for the most kids.”

The agenda for next week’s special meeting also includes new business, meeting dates for board subcommittees and the agenda for the Dec. 13 full board meeting

— BARBARA SOLOW

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