BENNINGTON >> Mount Anthony Union Middle School will shift its start time 30 minutes beginning this fall, to give students more time to sleep, and to have them in school during the part of the day that their brains are more alert.
Principal Tim Payne made the announcement at the meeting of the Mount Anthony Union School Board on Wednesday. He had informed the board in April that he was looking into the issue.
The school day currently starts at 7:30 a.m., but this change would move the start time to 8 a.m. The change will go into effect on August 29, the first day of school next fall. Dismissal will be at 2:15 p.m., the same as it is now. Students currently arrive between 7:05 and 7:25 a.m. Now the middle school and high school will both have school days of six hours and 15 minutes.
"We have had a number of conversations with the Dufour bus company," said Payne, "and they have agreed that the company should be able to deliver students to the middle school starting at 7:30 a.m." Payne said that, on average, bus pick-up times for middle school students would shift, on average, about 15 to 20 minutes later in the mornings.
"There is general agreement that this would be better for our students," said Payne, "not only for their health, as far as sleep, but also for academics."
Superintendent Jim Culkeen said he was in agreement with the change. Board member Dave Durfee, of Shaftsbury, also said it was a good idea, and commended Payne for taking the initiative to make the change.
The high school start time will be staying the same, and as such there is no conflict with the Career Development Center.
When he first publicly introduced the idea in April, Payne said, "We start our first class of the day at 7:30 a.m., which goes against every piece of scientific literature about when the adolescent brain wakes up. As a result, as you walk the hallways, on any given day you will see students in a bit of a daze, trying to wake up with giant cups of coffee, Red Bull, Mountain Dew, or any number of carbonated beverages to kind of snap themselves awake. There really is no reason the middle school goes so early other than the way the bus schedule has been set up."
He said at that point he, Culkeen and Dufour had been discussing solutions to the problem for several months.
The Mount Anthony Union School Board meets the third Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Mount Anthony Union Middle School library. Full recordings of the meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.