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School Start Time Committee

Since September 2018, a School Start Time Committee has been studying the issue of Columbia’s start time and its impact on educational outcomes and district operations. Columbia’s start time of 7:10 a.m., which is the earliest in the Capital Region, was brought to the attention of district administrators as an issue by both parents and students. According to research, later school start times for adolescents may contribute to better physical and emotional health leading to improved academic outcomes for students.

The committee, which is comprised of students, teachers, staff, administrators, parents and Board of Education members, has met regularly to determine if scheduling changes would improve the general welfare of students and how those would impact the school community.

School Start Time Survey

A survey was sent to three different groups last December – Columbia students, all district staff and K-12 parents – to obtain feedback on the potential for changing school start times at Columbia and how that could impact the middle school and elementary school levels, transportation, child care, after school activities and the school budget.

The survey showed support for later start times at the high school and middle school and an earlier start time at the elementary schools. There was not, however, support from parents and staff for a later elementary school start time, presumably because those schools already start on the later end at 9:00 a.m.

School Start Time Community Forums

East Greenbush Central School District hosted three community forums in November 2019 to discuss school start times and the impact potential changes would have on its stakeholders. At each of the meetings, information was shared, including a proposal to adjust school start times, with the intent of gathering feedback.

In general, there has been support for later start times at Columbia and Goff because it could benefit the students academically, socially and emotionally, but there are some concerns over the later dismissal of the middle school and the earlier start time for the elementary schools. At the first public forum, parents of elementary students asked for a start time closer to 8:00 a.m. However, it is not a simple adjustment when considering all of the logistical challenges such as state attendance regulations, busing and after-school activities including athletics.

Many questions and concerns regarding the proposal were expressed at the three community forums through discussion groups and Q&A sessions, and 179 comment cards were submitted by audience members.

After the third community forum, Superintendent Jeff Simons told the audience that he plans to recommend to the Board of Education that the district continue to study school start times and not implement any changes for the 2020-21 school year.

School Start Time Proposal

At each of the School Start Time Community Meetings, a proposal was shared with the audience, which would push back Columbia’s start time to 8:15 a.m. and Goff Middle School’s start time to 8:45 a.m. The elementary schools would be moved to a 7:30 a.m. start time to ensure the district could maintain its efficient three-tier bus system. (Under this system, school buses transport students to and from school in three different trips by school level.)

SchoolStart TimeEnd Time
Elementary Schools7:30 a.m.2:00 p.m.
Columbia High School8:15 a.m.3:08 p.m.
Goff Middle School8:45 a.m.3:45 p.m.

Resources

School Start Time Committee

  • Jeffrey Simons, Superintendent and Chairperson
  • Kathleen Curtin, Board of Education Member
  • John Dunn, Board of Education Member
  • Jennifer Massey, Board of Education Member
  • Jack Alvey, Donald P. Sutherland Elementary School Principal
  • Jill Barker, Howard L. Goff Middle School Principal
  • MaryAnn Belmont, Transportation Supervisor
  • Paul Bickel, Director of Facilities
  • Ryan Blake, Columbia High School Grade 11 Student
  • Marissa Cannon, Director of Human Resources
  • Muriel Church, Columbia High School Parent
  • Jennifer Cuttler, Green Meadow Teaching Assistant SRP Representative
  • Chase Durivage, Columbia High School Grade 11 Student
  • Larry Edson, Assistant Superintendent for School Business Finance
  • Linda Furnari, Columbia High School Parent
  • Daniel Garab, Green Meadow Elementary School Principal
  • Jaime Gibbs, Bell Top School Counselor
  • Wayne Grignon, Genet Elementary School Principal
  • Aidan Halsey, Columbia High School Grade 9 Student
  • Mark Halsey, Head Bus Driver
  • Michael Harkin, Columbia High School Principal
  • Alison Hosier, Goff Middle School Teacher and East Greenbush Teachers Association Representative
  • Sarah Howard, Goff Middle School Parent
  • Kevin Kelly, Civil Service Employees Association Representative
  • Ed Kilmartin, Columbia High School Assistant Principal
  • Michael Leonard, Director of Physical Education, Health & Athletics
  • Lily Mahoney, Columbia High School Grade 12 Student
  • Laurie Marchiony, Columbia, Goff and Red Mill Parent
  • James McHugh, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction
  • Susan Pagones, Genet Elementary School Teacher and K-5 EGTA Representative
  • Phyllis Sanford, School Lunch Manager
  • Ryan Seely, Columbia High School Grade 10 Student
  • Kelley Sheraw, Columbia High School Teacher
  • Helen Squillace, Red Mill Elementary School Principal