Dear LMSD Community,
Implementing healthy start times in our District has been the focus of many thoughtful discussions among students, families and staff over the past several weeks. These most recent conversations follow years of research, consideration and advocacy for making a change based on recommendations by numerous medical and public health organizations to better align start times with teens’ sleep patterns. The issue is important to our community, and we appreciate that so many of you shared your feedback to help the Lower Merion Board of School Directors make an informed decision.
On Monday night, after additional stakeholder comments, lengthy Board discussion and careful consideration, the Board voted 7 to 2 in favor of implementing a modified version of the proposed schedule in September 2024. The current school start time schedule will remain in place for the 2023-2024 school year.
As the reminder the current proposal is:
- The middle school day begins first, at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 2:50 p.m.
- The high school day begins second at 8:40 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m.
- The elementary school day begins last at 9:20 a.m. and ends at 4:05 p.m.
The modifications requested by the Board include:
- Ending the elementary school day 15 minutes earlier than the proposed end time of 4:05 p.m.
- Providing before-school childcare supports for elementary students and their families
- Considering a slightly earlier middle school start, if necessary, to ensure that no school ends after 4:00 p.m.
- Ensuring that educators are supported during the transition to the new schedule with choice, agency and voice in the planning and implementation.
On May 8 and June 20, 2023, the Administration will provide updates to the Board and community on their work to incorporate these modifications into a final plan for a September 2024 change in school start times. The Board expects to vote on that plan with in early summer 2023, to allow for its implementation in September 2024.
It is also important to note that school start times are one of many ways we are addressing student safety, mental and physical wellness, and sense of belonging. While we plan to operationalize a new schedule for September 2024, we will also work on initiatives including educating students and families about healthy sleep habits, managing screen time, maintaining healthy diets and exercise routines, and practicing mindfulness.
I am confident that working together as a community, we can continue to build a learning environment in which all of our students can experience meaningful success.
We will continue to provide updates on the Start Times page of the District website and through direct communications. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please email email@example.com.
Thank you again for your commitment and passion.
Megan E. Shafer