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Referendum On Starting Time Sparks Debate At School District In Fairfield County

New Canaan is debating the merits of changing its starting times for students. Photo Credit: Wikipedia
The proposed start and stop times for New Canaan schools. Photo Credit: New Canaan School District

A referendum on whether or not to review and potentially change the starting time for schools in a Connecticut school district has led to a mass debate and much consternation in the community.

On Wednesday, June 2 in Fairfield County, there will be a referendum vote from noon until 8 p.m. in New Canaan at the high school over whether or not the Board of Education should spend nearly $500,000 to study start times for students.

Absentee ballots can be left at the ballot box in front of Town Hall.

Town Council member Michael Mauro made a motion in March “to reduce the Board of Education Operating and Health Insurance Budget by $463,337 for the purpose of further study and review of the school start time,” which failed.

The issue has been brought up again, and now will be put to a vote, with a “yes” vote propelling the motion to the Board of Finance for consideration, and a “no” vote will keep the Board of Education budget as is without any changes.

Proposed time changes for schools has is posted above. It is the first referendum on the Board of Education budget in nearly three decades.

Officials noted that “the anticipated cost to maintain the district’s existing program with 34 buses is $3,643,943 for the upcoming academic year.

“Additionally, there are other costs associated with a change in start and end times that are not included in this analysis, but remain under discussion and consideration by the Board of Education.”

According to the Board of Education, the goal of the referendum is to “research and understand the connections between school start and end times and student health and wellness.  

“The New Canaan Public Schools are committed to doing all that we can to create the conditions for students to thrive and excel in our schools,” the Board stated. “Over the past several years, it has been reported locally and nationally that students are experiencing a high degree of pressure and stress, and New Canaan's students are not immune. 

“While school start/end times are not a ‘solution’ to the pressures and stress that our students are experiencing, we believe that a change, developed and implemented as part of a comprehensive solution and focused on student health and wellness, could be beneficial and is therefore worth exploring.” 

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