November 14, 2018

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School Hours

School Hours

Background Information

  • Community Stakeholder Survey Spring/Summer 2017 with over 1000 respondents
  • Community Stakeholder Survey November/December 2017 with over 1400 respondents
  • Discussions with Parent Council Network, PTO Leadership, Teacher Representatives, and Administration
  • School Board has been engaged in this topic for over a year discussing the merits of a potential change in school hours

In a 2016 survey of MSDWT stakeholders, a majority of parents and teachers indicated a preference for a later start time for high school students. Because bus routing times are directly dependent on the school attendance boundaries, we will be delaying the presentation and recommendation of school hours to late summer/early fall. We believe moving the timeline later for school hours will allow us to examine more precise and accurate data.

Option 1: Current School Times Times are approximate. If adopted, final times may minimally vary from times below.

High School: 7:20 AM – 2:35 PM
Elementary School: 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Middle School: 9:20 AM – 4:20 PM

Option 2: Potential Hours for 2019-20 Times are approximate. If adopted, final times may minimally vary from times below.

Elementary 7:30 AM – 2:30 PM Earliest Pick-Up Time Approximately 6:20 – 6:30 AM Latest Drop-Off Time Approximately 3:30 – 3:40 PM
High School: 8:20 AM – 3:35 PM Earliest Pick-Up Time Approximately 7:10 – 7:20 AM Latest Drop-Off Time Approximately 4:35 – 4:45 PM
Middle School: 9:25 AM – 4:25 PM Earliest Pick-Up Time Approximately 8:15 – 8:25 AM Latest Drop-Off Time Approximately 5:25 – 5:35 PM

Important Reminders:

  • Any changes would take effect with the 2019-2020 school year;
  • The administration has established 4:25 PM as the latest possible end time for our school day due to after school activities, after school student supervision requirements, and after school activity bus transportation limitations;
  • Being mindful of early morning bus pick up times from students’ residences, the administration and transportation department prefers to start the school day for all busing tiers as close to 7:30 AM as possible;
  • The District has contracted with a consultant with expertise in school transportation routing. Final recommended times will be based on:
    • A minimum amount of time needed between the bussing tiers in order to safely and efficiently transport students;
    • Costs associated with any change in school hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the District considering a change in school hours?

Research continues to provide evidence that adolescent students perform better if their school day starts later in the day. As students mature into the adolescent stage, their sleep/wake cycle changes. Students in this stage of life tend to be more alert, focus better, and make better decisions if/when their academic day starts as near to 8:30 AM as possible. In addition to behavioral benefits, studies indicate that fewer automobile accidents involving teenager drivers occur if the students are on the road later in the day.


Would a change mean that elementary students would start their day earlier?

It is a possibility. The District is aware that this change causes many questions among parents; however, the research is clear that the adolescent students benefit most from a later start to their school day.


How early would my elementary student board the bus in the morning?

While most students do not have routes of this length, some students would be part of a bus route with a length of approximately 50 minutes. The best way to determine the answer to this question is to consider the current length of your child’s bus route compared to the start time of school. Use the same math and use approximately 7:30 AM as the start to the elementary day. This will provide you an approximation of the time your child would board the bus.


Why doesn’t the District just go to two tiers of bussing instead of three?

Costs. A change to two tiers would require a multi-million dollar addition to the District budget. Costs would be incurred through the purchase and maintenance of a larger bus fleet as well as additional fuel and personnel costs. These funds do not currently exist.


Why can’t the middle schools go in the middle slot of the three tiers?

The middle school has the least amount of bus routes of the three school levels. If that school level was scheduled in the middle time slot, it would increase transportation costs. Additionally, if the middle schools were scheduled in the middle slot, this would force the high school to fall last in the sequence. This is impractical due to the impact on after school activities as well as traffic patterns around the high school area during that time of day. For these reasons, the administration does not anticipate making a recommendation that includes the middle school starting in the middle time slot.


Why can’t middle school go first?

The reason for considering a change in school hours is based on research that indicates that adolescent students perform better when school starts as close to (or later than) 8:30 a.m. Moving the middle school to the first time/attendance slot is contrary to that research. There are several articles outlining the research on this page (right column). We would also be required to incur costs for additional supervision of students after school as they wait for their activities to begin. Staff that support our students through coaching sports and clubs would also be unable to participate in valuable professional development or risk missing their coaching assignment. For these reasons, the administration does not anticipate making a recommendation that includes the middle school starting in the first time slot.


Why do schools have to start so early and end so late?

The administration continues to address the need to provide adequate time between the school levels. Adequate time is needed so that the Transportation Department can safely and efficiently run all routes between tiers (levels).


When will the District make a decision?

The District has engaged with a consultant with expertise in school transportation routing. We are presenting at each Board meeting the work and findings of our consultant as well as our administration and Transportation Department (leading to a final recommendation). The administration will share a recommendation at the November 14, 2018 School Board Meeting and the Board will take action on the recommendation at the November 28 meeting.



Student Perspective

School Start Times – The Effect on Students (December 2018)

Research Articles

Research, along with advocacy from groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, continues to support later school start times for adolescent students. Some of the advantages, according to studies, of a later middle school and high school start time include:

  • Later start times align with the sleep/wake cycle of adolescents, improving alertness and school engagement;
  • Schools with later start times have seen improvement in areas such as academic achievement, truancy rates, and student behavior;
  • Fewer automobile accidents involving teen drivers.

We invite stakeholders to review research articles on the topic of school start times. We have organized articles (below):