HomeCherry Hill NewsCherry Hill Public Schools' School Start Time Steering Committee presents recommendations

Cherry Hill Public Schools’ School Start Time Steering Committee presents recommendations

High school, elementary students may gain time, but not middle-schoolers

Students and staff from the School Start Time Steering Committee presented four recommendations to the Cherry Hill board of education Feb. 8 for potential start times that would allow the high school to start classes later in the day.

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The top priorities were to maintain instructional time throughout the day, keep at least a 30-minute buffer time between routes in the morning and afternoon for the bus drivers, and be mindful of dismissal times. The board is expected to make a decision before the end of the school year, and at the earliest, the project would be implemented in the 2023-2024 school year.

The effort to create later start times began in July, when Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kwame Morton was tasked with leading work that led to August meetings with Students for a Later Start Time, and the formation of the School Start Time Steering Committee in October. The committee consists of students, parents, administrators, staff and residents. 

The committee reviewed sleep recommendations for teenagers (eight to 10 hours a night) and the American Pediatric Association’s recommendation that high school start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The current schedule is 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

Following are the four recommendations from the steering committee :

  • In recommendations 1 and 2, high school runs from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. In recommendation 2, lunch is revised from one 50-minute period to a 30-minute period, and a 20-minute office hour will follow the last class to maintain the same times.
  • In recommendation 3, high school runs from 8:39 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Lunch is also revised to a 30-minute period. 
  • In recommendation 4, high school runs from 7:55 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. 

Middle school currently runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The following recommendations have been made:

  • In recommendations 1, 2 and 3, middle school runs from 7:45 to 2:45 p.m.
  • In recommendation 4, middle school runs from 8:25 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.
  • In all four options, the instructional day remains unchanged.

Elementary school currently runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The following recommendations have been made:

  • In recommendations 1, 2 and 3, elementary school would run from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
  • In recommendation 4, elementary school would run from 9:25 a.m. to 3:55 p.m.

Presenters discussed the consequences of sleep deprivation, and noted that the survey responses of 8,000 community members – half of whom were middle- and high-school students – showed that only 6 percent felt they were getting the recommended amount of sleep, while 92 percent reported feeling sleep deprived in school. 

Common concerns from the board regarding the recommendations included the late dismissal time for elementary students; the earlier start time for middle-schoolers; and the question of how much the students value having a 50-minute lunch period, with half the time used for lunch and the other half for club activities. 

Morton explained that the reasoning behind giving middle schools the earliest start time instead of elementary schools was because more than 90 percent of parents surveyed said they were satisfied with the current schedule and middle-schoolers can’t drive, which minimizes the risk of car accidents.

Superintendent Joseph Meloche noted that until the 2013-2014 school year, the high schools and middle schools started half an hour later, but because the district had one of the shortest instructional time periods in New Jersey, a half hour was added before school to keep the same dismissal times.

In other news;

  • The board recognized student athletes involved with Cherry Hill West’s boys soccer, Carusi Middle School’s field hockey, Cherry Hill East’s girls cross country, the East  cheerleading competition team, Beck Middle School’s girls soccer and Rosa International Middle School’s boys soccer team for accomplishments in the fall.
  • Joel S. Mayer was sworn in as the ninth board of education member, following the resignation of former board member Carole Matlack in December. 
  • Meloche acknowledged Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement that the school mask  mandate will be lifted on March 7, and said the board would discuss it further at its Feb. 22 meeting.
  • The board added a meeting on March 15 to go over the budget.

The next board meeting will be in person and virtual on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. 



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