KEENE — Students in Keene High School and Keene Middle School will be getting up at least an hour later, thanks to the new start times for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, though elementary school students are getting an earlier start.
Superintendent Robert Malay sent parents a letter this week announcing the official start times for the coming school year.
“While it is understood that the changes may create challenges for families, the overall benefits this shift will provide to our student learners is too significant to ignore,” Malay wrote.
Keene’s board of education has been investigating starting later for years, and found as children get into their middle school and high school years, the later start times would mean more sleep and better overall performance, according to information the board gathered.
Under the proposed plan, Keene elementary schools will start about half an hour earlier, at 8 a.m., and students will be released at 2:40 p.m. The city’s elementary schools currently opens at varying times between 8:20 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., and general all end at 3 p.m., though the Benjamin Franklin School ends at 3:10 p.m.
The middle school will see the latest start time at 8:50 a.m., and a release will be at 3:22 p.m. The middle school currently starts at 7:50 and is released at 2:22 p.m.
The high school gets the longest shift, starting at 8:40 a.m. instead of 7:25 a.m., and it will get out at 3:33 p.m., instead of the current 2:18 p.m. release time.
Though the later start time may be a welcome change for some, a few school districts that send students to Keene are not happy, something Malay acknowledges.
“There will be an impact on the sending districts, details of which are still being worked out,” Malay wrote.
Keene High School accepts students from Chesterfield, Harrisville, Marlow, Marlborough, Nelson, and Westmoreland as ember of SAU 29. Those schools have not made a movement to join Keene’s later start time for the middle and elementary school students who attend school outside of Keene.
The Monadnock Regional School District and the Fall Mountain Regional School District are both taking Keene to arbitration over the agreement to send students to Keene’s Cheshire Career Center. The schools say the later start times violate that agreement. Monadnock wants a court to grant an injunction to halt the later start times until the issues can be worked out. That request is currently pending in the Cheshire Superior Court in Keene.