Joe Siciliano: Change in School Start Time Would Impact Use of Fields by Parks & Rec, Travel Teams and Non-School Groups

boy with footballAt Wednesday night’s Parks & Rec Board meeting at Town Hall, Joe Siciliano described the impact of a possible delayed school start time on use of fields in Greenwich and overall programming offered by the Parks & Rec Dept.

The Parks & Rec director pointed out that if schools dismiss later, the schools themselves, which have first dibs on use of  their playing fields, will use them later. He said that particularly during times of limited daylight in late fall and early spring, the net result is a squeeze on town fields.

“We’ll lose a lot of field space for outside organizations,” Siciliano said, adding that it might not only impact revenue, but leave outside clubs, travel teams and Parks & Rec programs out of luck.

He said that if there is a squeeze on field time after school, school groups will likely turn to using the fields on weekends. “It could be a revenue thing, but all the time we provide sports clubs and our own programs could be effected if they take Saturdays,” he said.

“This could be a bigger hit on after-school recreation, travel teams, our own programs,” Siciliano said, adding, “It’s not that I’m against late school start.”

“If the High School says we’re taking those turf fields on Saturdays for practice, all of the other sports clubs – and our own – are out,” he said. “It’s not that I’m against late school starts, but we have to think of the bigger picture.”

“I would assume that Gus (Gus Lindine, GHS athletic director) is going to be coming to us and asking, ‘Can I use a park field or a recreation field because I can’t get my practices in after school because it’s getting dark?’ He’s not going to be able to service all the programs at the high school,” Siciliano said. “It’s going to be a mess.”

Siciliano said user groups that the Parks & Rec department works with should be warned about the upcoming Community Engagement sessions for the school start time change.

There are upcoming meetings (see below or click here to Greenwich Schools website)

Community Engagement Session I

  • April 6, 2016    Central Middle School Auditorium – 7:00 pm
  • April 7, 2016    Greenwich Public Library- Cole Auditorium – 9:00 am
  • April 19, 2016  Boys and Girls Club – 6:30 pm

Community Engagement Session II

  • May 23, 2016    Central Middle School  Auditorium- 7:00 pm
  • May 24, 2016    Town Hall Meeting Room – 9:00 am

“I’m not going to get in the fight about later start time,” he said. “But we can’t make up fields after dark.”


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  • SJ

    What’s more important, fields or health and success? Honestly, who cares about field time? Field time is secondary…figure it out Joe! Practice time is NOT a priority and the kids need more time for homework anyway. Shorten practice times!

    • Allison Vera

      Joe is not the one who sets practice times; he is the one attempting to accommodate all the requests for field time. And many people care about field time – all those on adult leagues striving to improve or maintain their health for starters. And many parents would disagree about practice time not being a priority.

      • SJ

        It was not meant as an attack on Joe but it is his job to figure out how to best schedule the fields. Sports should never be a priority over health and academics. Sports are part of health but you won’t have healthy kids or successful athletes if they don’t get a sufficient amount of sleep!

  • Sarah Darer Littman

    SJ: “What’s more important, fields or health and success?….Practice time is NOT a priority and the kids need more time for homework anyway. ”

    SJ is an example of the troubling parental thinking that I increasingly witness in our town, and which I see reflected in the fan mail I get from my teen readers. Parents who don’t seem to recognize that “health and success” means being well-rounded kids, with time to participate in sports and have a life, not just doing hours of homework and getting the highest test scores. It’s extremely disturbing. The disrespectful “just figure it out, Joe” tone is also noteworthy. We can lecture the kids about cyber bullying and have Names Day programs till we’re blue in the face, but when parents model anonymous behavior like that toward our public servants, what’s the point? Children learn what they live. They are the best hypocrisy detectors out there.

  • David Rudolph

    SJ & Sara,

    It’s not about homework time. It’s all about SLEEP, and how sleep is vital to health and success (on the field and off).

    The CDC says 2 out of 3 high school students sleep less than eight hours on a school night and there is a mountain of scientific evidence showing that delaying school start times, especially for high school students improves in-class performance, national test scores and class attendance, and also reduces feelings of depression, local car crashes by 16-18 year-olds, and the reported use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Students that get less than eight hours of sleep are also more likely to be overweight.

    The Journal of Pediatroc Orthopaedics has found that student athletes sleeping fewer than 8 hours per night were 1.7 times more likely to have had an injury compared to those who slept for 8 or more hours.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

    “Early school start times are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need,” Anne Wheaton, epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Population Health

    The bottom line is that having a healthy and successful well-rounded child starts with making sure they get enough SLEEP.


    Sources (a few among many):

  • Valerie Erde

    When young couples compare towns trying to decide where to raise a family, first and foremost they ask about the schools – not about fields. The athletic and other recreational opportunities offered in Greenwich are wonderful and add a lot to the quality of life in for our children, teens, and adults. However, I would hope as a community we would prioritize student learning, school engagement (e.g. not falling asleep in class), student health, and student equity – as Seattle, one of the nation’s largest school district, did in their decision to change to later school start times for 2016 They too have many school-based, parks & rec., and for profit-sports programs — which I imagine will continue to thrive as they have in other districts around the nation where later start times have been implemented including close neighbors Dobbs Ferry and Wilton, and farther neighbors such as this district in MA:

    As reported in the Boston Globe, March 10, 2016:
    “So in a state where most high schools start before 8 a.m., Nauset school officials in 2012 did the unthinkable: They pushed their start time back to 8:35 a.m., giving students an extra hour to sleep in.

    The results were instantaneous, administrators say. More students showed up to school refreshed. Tardiness fell by 35 percent, and the number of Ds and Fs dropped by half.

    But the impact on sports was not as significant as school officials initially anticipated. Neighboring school systems have been accommodating in scheduling games later in the day or on Saturdays, and several student athletes say sleeping later in the morning far outweighs the late afternoon practices and games.
    “It’s easier to get a good night of sleep,” said Paul Prue, 18, a senior who plays baseball and says he gets about eight hours of sleep.”

    The quality of our schools affect our children and our whole town. Later school start times improve the quality of our schools.

  • SJ

    Sarah, I was not implying that kids should be doing hours of homework. I actually think that 1 hour should be the maximum amount of homework required after a long day of school in order to allow for sports, family time and downtime. But the reality is that they come home with much more than that and they need the time to complete it. I do not think that sports are more important than academics. I think the amount of value that we place on sports has gotten out of hand. Practice a few days a week for an hour or so but 2 hrs a day, everyday and requiring the kids to start practicing over summer break is ridiculous. Sports and exercise is important but I think we have prioritized it to be equal to academics and family time and I totally disagree with that. And for you to compare the statement “figure it out Joe” to cyber bullying is absurd as well. The bullying issue is another huge topic that needs to be addressed but you are out of line to bring that up in this case.
    Our kids need sleep! We need sleep! No school should begin before 8:30 am. They can “figure out” how to best utilize the fields as that is secondary and not nearly as important as physical health and academic success. Well rounded doesn’t mean prioritizing sports equally to sleep and academics.

  • Sarah Darer Littman

    With all due respect to David, Valerie and SJ, I don’t need to be lectured about the studies on school start times. I wrote about this issue in the Greenwich Time probably 12-14 years ago, when I was still a columnist for that paper. I’m glad the rest of town is catching up.