Sunoo: Gildea Will Provide a Well Grounded Review of School Start/End Time

Letter to the Editor submitted by Sharon Sunoo, May 15, 2018

Dr. Jill Gildea was hired by the BOE as our new superintendent by a unanimous decision. She was brought in because of her proven strengths in innovative approaches to public education, use of technology and data in schools, her highly effective management skills, and her strong work habits and ethics.

Despite good intentions and some positive outcomes, it has become apparent that the change in school start time had a negative impact in some areas as well.

Dr. Gildea has directed her team to review those matters with resolution as a goal, such that all students at Greenwich High School can fully reap the benefits of a later school start time. The community, students, and families of Greenwich expect a comprehensive review of the school start later policy. This is within the normal purview of her position.

This work needs to be done with the necessary information, including feedback from her administration, survey data review, etc. Dr. Gildea will be able to provide a well grounded review, and if necessary, a recommendation to improve the status quo. Some solutions to adjust for impacts have already been implemented, however Dr. Gildea has recently assembled a steering committee with the necessary depth of stakeholders to provide additional information and local perspective.

The recognized negative impacts include the students’ compression of time due to the 3:15 p.m. dismissal, as well as significant loss of instructional time because of extra curricular activities that engage more than half of the GHS student body.

With her proven strengths, the strengths that she was hired for, Dr. Gildea is managing the attempt to determine a path to appropriate and feasible resolution of issues through the transparent process of the steering committee. Dr. Gildea is well versed in the science of sleep. The committee and administration need to be allowed to complete evaluation while appreciating the wide range of choices and consequences of such change. If the superintendent decides to make a proposed change, we hope that the Board of Education will support her work.

Our trust is well placed in our very qualified and experienced superintendent, who will give the necessary attention to this matter and will provide a researched course of action that is tailored to this community.