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Study committee recommends moving Northampton High School start time from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m.

A 10-member study committee is scheduled to present the plan to the School Committee when it meets at 7:15 tonight at JFK Middle School.

“With the evolution of education and best practices, research indicates that an ideal high school schedule includes a later start time,” the introduction to the plan states. “The committee proposes that the Northampton School Committee adopt the optimum environment for as many students as possible.”

The proposal does not say exactly when an 8:15 a.m. start time should take effect at the high school.

“That’s up to the school committee,” Lucy Hartry, chairwoman of the study committee, said in an interview before tonight’s meeting. “We hope it will be this fall.”

The community has been debating whether to change the start time at NHS for five years. The latest plan grew out of the committee’s charge to investigate “implementation issues” surrounding a later start at the high school.

The plan the school board is reviewing tonight includes information about the impact of an 8:15 a.m. start on high school sports, transportation, the ability of NHS students to take classes at Smith College and other related issues.

One major change that has occurred since the study committee was formed earlier this year is the school board’s decision to eliminate busing to the high school for budgetary reasons. That means any change in the high school schedule would not affect start times at other city schools, the plan states.

Overall, the start-time committee’s three-month investigation showed “the implementation issues are manageable” and a later start time should be adopted for the high school, the group recommends.

In addition to Hartry, members of the ad hoc committee are NHS students Ezekiel Baskin and Johanna Renard, teachers Janet Hicks and Randy Gordon; School Committee members Blue DuVal and Howard Moore; parent Harvey Hill; business owner Steve Herrell; and community member Bess Detmold.

Check later for additional information on GazetteNET and full coverage in Friday’s Gazette.

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