With the shift of ninth grade to the high school, the district’s current three-tier transportation model needed adjustments to remain financially sustainable. To address this, the Board charged district administration in May 2016 to explore school start and end times for the district’s middle and elementary schools that would balance the educational needs of students with bus transportation and operational efficiencies across the district.
Administration’s School Start/End Time Study began in September when an Advisory Task Force of 28 parents, students, staff and community members convened to explore options. The Task Force heard from experts in fields of child development, adolescent brain development and sleep patterns and school transportation. It also reviewed a variety of data and research around school start and end times. In addition, the Task Force was charged with seeking input from families, staff and community. At its final meeting on Nov. 1, 2016 the Task Force advanced four options to administration for additional consideration.
In November, after further data gathering and Board discussion, the district sought additional public input through its ThoughtExchange community engagement tool. The insight included thoughts and engagement from over 2,700 participants, sharing nearly 4,000 thoughts on the revised options. The process also allowed for participants to prioritize these thoughts, resulting in 113,536 “stars” being assigned and to the various ideas shared. The resulting data provided information and insight to the values and concerns of families and staff regarding the impact of proposed times. This input, along with options developed by the Task Force, were reviewed and evaluated by administration in issuing its report and recommendation to the Board on December 12.
After reviewing the report and recommendation, the Board provided feedback and further direction to administration, amending its charge and parameters to include possible additional funding. As such, administration, in consultation with School Board ad hoc committee comprised of Wallen-Friedman, Goldstein and O’Brien, reviewed developed four alternative options for consideration. The full Board discussed these options at a work session on December 19, during which the Board advanced administration’s recommendation (the “green” plan) and two alternates (the “white” and “blue” plans) for Board action at its meeting on Jan. 9, 2017.