Asked on Facebook:
I’m also interested in hearing your perspective re: delaying start times for high school students. This is an important issue for me as I have an incoming freshman next Fall. The research findings regarding this issue are compelling and I’ve been disappointed that it seems Natick is really behind in making this change.
I want to start by establishing a few things that I believe. In fact, I think many of us actually do agree on ideal goals:
I believe strongly in the science that our teenagers will perform better if we can give them a later start time.
I believe in listening to our educators when they tell us what they need.
I believe that our afterschool childcare options are insufficient to support our increasingly diverse community and that they push families to make difficult decisions.
I believe we must always be cautious about making changes that disproportionately impact specific stakeholders.
There is no doubt that last night's School Committee meeting was stressful for many and that there are a lot of stakeholders (particularly elementary parents and our teachers) who are anxious about the implications of a change of this magnitude, particularly with the regard to the burdens of additional childcare.
Given that framing, here are my takeaways from last night:
Vote on 3/20: The School Committee will vote on whether to open negotiations with the union on potential start date changes. It is not a vote for a specific scenario or even a vote for change at all.
Any actual change in start times and schedule would not be implemented until 2024-2025. I appreciate that this is meaningful runway for community and stakeholder engagement.
I am concerned about going to the union with 4 distinct options before there is meaningful input from both the Committee and the community on preference. Forcing the EAN to make a choice puts our teachers and staff in a difficult position of supporting that choice if subsequently faced with community pushback.
This is as an opportunity to expand after school childcare resource options across Natick through development, incentives or subsidies, and I hope we don't miss the opportunity to align multiple objectives.
The School Committee has expressed a commitment to gathering public input. Difficult decisions - as our community has learned - mandates extensive community engagement. We still need that, and I think the committee can afford more than 2 weeks before voting to take this to the union.
I would love to know how your priorities align with the 4 options presented.