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Northampton school leaders set charge for new study committee on high school start time

City school leaders have agreed on a mission for a new ad hoc subcommittee to study the issue of later school start times at Northampton High School.

The committee’s official charge, according to a Dec. 26 statement from Superintendent Brian Salzer’s office, is “to investigate the implementation issues surrounding a later start time at the high school, including effects on budget, school start and end times districtwide, and any related topics” including sports, transportation and after-school activities.

The School Committee has set a target date of April 1 for the ad hoc group to submit its findings, “along with one or more proposals for consideration,” according to the statement.

Mayor David J. Narkewicz is looking to appoint volunteer members as follows: two School Committee members, four teachers, one administrator, two parents, one community member, two high school students, one business community member and/or one municipal government employee.

The ad hoc committee is the second the School Committee has formed since the debate over a later school bell at NHS began five years ago. The first committee recommended moving the high school start time from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. or later, based on studies showing teens who get more sleep experience less stress and do better in school.

Steve Herrell, who was a member of that committee, said he is “seriously considering” applying for a spot on the new study group.

“I want a better sense (if possible) of how the committee will operate — exactly how it will get its job done,” Herrell said, in a recent email message. Residents interested in serving on the ad-hoc subcommittee should submit a letter of interest to Salzer’s office by noon on Jan. 10. For information, contact the city school department at 587-1329.

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