School Start / End Time Study Frequently Asked Questions
Noting that the current schedule was implemented as a one-year option to allow for further study, the School Board directed Superintendent Schultz to develop a study process in which schedules for 2018-19 and beyond could be reviewed and approved.
The second phase of the School Start/End Times Study began earlier this fall with a review of the 2016-17 study and an updated transportation efficiency study to assess current operations and updated ridership data given the changes in start/end times and new grade configurations.
Recognizing that no start/end time schedule will meet the needs of all students and families, the Edina School Board and district leadership are committed to finding the solution that best meets the needs of students, builds on data and research on the effects of sleep and school times on children, and aligns with current district resources.
As part of the ongoing implementation of its Next Generation of Edina Public Schools Strategic Plan, the School Board charged administration the spring of 2016 to explore options for school start and end times at its nine K-12 school sites. At that time, the district was planning for the transition of ninth grade to EHS, and undergoing significant construction across the district.
As such, a task force was formed in the fall of 2016 to engage stakeholders in its study and planning of future start/end time schedules that balance the educational needs of students with available resources.
In February 2017, the School Board approved a one-year plan for school start/end times for the 2017-18 school year. The board committed to further study of school start and end times for the 2018-19 school year and beyond, including a transportation efficiency studies and additional research on school times and student learning.
The outcome of the 2016-17 study ended with a one-year solution with agreement on further study. A change from the previous schedule was needed to implement the shift of ninth grade to the high school, which limited the district’s ability to maintain the previous schedule without significant increase in cost.
While consideration of the impact of schedules on all stakeholders, including families and staff, will be reviewed, the most important focus of the study is on the needs of students and their learning and engagement.
Building off the work of the 2016-17 School Start/End Times Task Force, the School Board and Administration continue to focus on key considerations and values in prioritizing school start/end time options - student learning and engagement, student safety, walkable, impact on families, operational costs, program consistency/equity between schools, and before and after school activities.
Additional considerations include timing of a decision, walking distances, program adjustments and family needs.
In 1996, Edina was the first school in the country to recognize key research on adolescent brain development and sleep patterns, moving the high school start time to 8:30 a.m. Research since that time, including independent studies on Edina High School, highlight the positive impact of a later high school start time on student achievement, engagement and discipline.
Similarly, recent studies and recommendation from physicians and education professionals point to similar patterns and needs in younger adolescents, including middle school age students.
While we agree that good parenting includes limiting access to TV and cell phones in the evening, the research states that's not enough. Research shows that teens need about 9.25 hours of sleep per night to be alert and functional.
But according to research done by the University of Minnesota, teenagers' brains during adolescence have a shift in their sleep cycles that is due to developmental changes which signal the brain to feel sleepy. As a result, teens are generally unable to fall asleep before about 10:45 p.m. and the brain remains in a sleep mode until about 8 a.m.
The CAREI (Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement) findings were contrary to the fears and expectations that a later start would result in students staying awake an hour later on school nights. Students included in the study reported getting an extra hour of sleep each night even after four years into the school start time change.
Minnesota Statutes, sections 123B.84 through 123B.87, require public school districts to provide transportation within the district for resident students attending nonpublic schools. The basic premise of this law is that school districts must provide the same level of service for nonpublic school students that they do for public school students.
These sections provide in part that “it is in the public interest to provide equality of treatment in transporting school children of the state who are required to attend elementary and secondary schools pursuant to chapter 120A, so that the health, welfare and safety of such children, while using the public highways of the state, shall be protected.” These laws are known as the “Equal Treatment Laws” or the “Fair Busing Bill.”
Because Our Lady of Grace also pulls from across the district, the most efficient way to transport them is with Normandale students. Thus the two are paired together to maximize buses and operational resources.
The School Board and Superintendent Schultz will facilitate Phase Two of the School Start/End Times Study.
Last summer the School Board identified the following timeline to review and decide on school start times for 2018-19 and beyond.
- June - November 2017: Preliminary Data Gathering
- October - November 2017: Ad Hoc Committee Review
- January 2017: Continued Study and Review
- February 2017: Recommendation Presented
- March 2017: School Board Decision
The School Board is interested in continuing to engage all stakeholders in the study process ahead of its decision in March 2018.
The School Board held a public hearing on Nov. 27, 2017 to gather initial insights and comments about what questions and concerns needed to be addressed by the study.
Additional listening sessions are planned for Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. (ECC, room 349) and Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. (ECC, room 349).
All School Board discussions and reports are available for review on the district website.
All information from the Start/End Times Study that took place during the 2016-17 school year are archived on the district website.
Initial research was conducted as part of Phase 1 of the study in 2016-17 in which the School Start/End Times Task Force and administration reviewed a variety of data and resources as they worked to assess the various considerations, values and impacts that go into developing school start/end times.
In November, additional research was shared and discussed as an addendum to the Edina Public Schools 2016-17 School Start/End Time Study from which the School Board “committed to further study of school start and end times to be presented for the 2018-19 school year and beyond.” The purpose of this report was to review and highlight the comprehensive research included in the 2016-17 School Start/End Time Study with an additional focus on new research specific to the elementary-aged learner.
While the primary focus for deciding school start/end times should be on what is best for student learning, the reality of district operational resources, especially student transportation services, plays an integral role in identify school times.
In order to transport all students who are eligible for busing, the district employs a very efficient transportation system in a three-tier model, requiring a minimum of 42 standard buses (not including special education and other special transport vehicles). To move to a different model would require more buses and/or increased walking distances for students to receive district transportation.
Under current district transportation guidelines, elementary students who live at least 0.7 miles away from school receive busing, as are middle school and high schools who live 1 mile from school. As a result, EPS currently transports over 7,000 students (K-12), which equates to approximately 83% of the student population. While not all students take the bus to school the district is required to transport all eligible district students.
Recognizing that the data gathered for the 2016-17 phase of the study would differ with grade nine moving the high school, the district conducted an additional review of transportation operations based on current ridership and routes.
Technically, yes. The state requires that all students living two miles or more from their school must receive district transportation. However, given the many hazardous roads and crossings in Edina, the district has chosen to set its walking distances at 0.7 miles for elementary and 1.0 miles for middle school and high school students.
That being said, the School Board and Administration reviewed options in Edina for a walking distance change and found challenges with the current geography and walking paths of the district.
The 2016-17 Task Force did explore the option of a two-tier busing model. While the model would provide more attractive start/end time options for all schools, it was estimated that it would cost the district approximately $2.5 million in one-time costs for additional buses, and ongoing operating costs (fuel, maintenance, labor) of up to $1 million annually.
As part of the Phase 2 study and examination of transportation efficiencies, the two-tier model was again explored. The Board determined that while a two-tier option was desired, it was not feasible given current available resources.
Going with a two-tier bus schedule would require at minimum an additional 14 more buses. Even if significant changes were made to walking distances (e.g. two miles for all students), the district would still need two additional buses.
Impact of Change
Recognizing that every family situation is different, the district and School Board understand the need to make a decision on any possible school start/end time changes by January so that families can plan and make adjustments. The district's school-age care programs (Kids Club and Wise Guys) are ready to respond to changes and family interest as needed, and the district will partner with families to secure child care or scholarships as they are able.
For some, yes. Some students already miss a portion of the school day (e.g., golf team), and students are responsible for getting their school work completed. However, the time most students will miss is minimal. Students who participate in extracurricular activities must maintain passing grades in order to continue to participate. Most importantly, the district is committed to working with coaches, advisors and parents to promote a healthy life balance for all students.
For high school activities that are for grades 9-12, most students and activities will not impacted. For grades 7-12 activities, some middle school students may miss part of the school day for competition events. The district will work with coaches on ways to minimize the impact of middle school students arriving later to practice than their high school peers. For activities housed and geared toward middle school students, program advisors and coaches will adjust to the end times accordingly.
In response to questions from the School Board and community, administration reviewed the various issues and other questions that a change in middle school start/end times would create.
Most issues were determined to be logistical in nature, with a variety of options and solutions presented.
- IMPACT: Transportation for students who receive special education services remains a challenge. School start times and special ed student drop-off are not aligned.
- SOLUTION: Conversations to be had with transportation; How do we best coordinate this with the elementary bus schedule? Is there capacity on the Normandale busses to transport 4 year olds? This has the potential of creating better efficiencies and cost savings.
Wrap around before and after school care component
- IMPACT: Coordination with Elementary School Age Care program for 4 year old school age care affected if elementary times start earlier.
- SOLUTION: Possible partnership with Normandale kindergarten school age care program to create shared staffing and spaces to create efficiencies and more choices for youth
School Age Care impact:
- IMPACT: Early start will impact size of early morning program – it will be smaller. Ability to hire staff will also be impacted because of the small amount of time needed.
- SOLUTION: May offer more 1 hour before school movement and enrichment programs as alternative to school age care option only.
Afternoon enrichment impact:
- IMPACT: More students will be enrolled which will impact both space needed and staffing.
- SOLUTION: Could offer two segments: 2:30 – 4:30 & 2:30 – 6 p.m.
- IMPACT: Will be harder to hire staff for these time periods. May interfere with other jobs and with school for students enrolled with us.
- IMPACT: Homework help will be impacted. Currently EHS students come over after school to assist students at many elementary schools.
- SOLUTION: The timing for this will have to adjusted for EHS student volunteers.
- OPPORTUNITY – more choices and different kinds of activities due to the longer afternoon. Little impact to our ability to provide programming.
Clubs, Recreation, Targeted Services
- IMPACT: We currently run programs from 2:30 - 4:30 and then students are picked up by an activity bus at 4:40ish if needed. This would be impacted
- SOLUTION: Run a 1 hour program component before school for those families that need an earlier start time for their students
- SOLUTION: Longer morning gives us an opportunity to run a before school Targeted Services program, which currently does not exist at MS.
- SOLUTION: Run a 1 hour component after school from 4:30 – 5:30
- IMPACT: Not sure if there would still be an activity bus running at 5:30 to take students home, which could impact how many students participate
- IMPACT: Accessing gyms for informal or intramural sports and fitness programs after school could be difficult if EHS athletics and dance programs utilize the gyms earlier and then stay in them.
- SOLUTION: Conversations and compromise with athletics
Currently Community Education runs three middle school sports programs that run through Minnesota State High School League. All of these team compete with other area school teams.
- Girls Middle School Track – averaging 140 registered girls a year
- Boys Middle School Track – averaging 100 registered boys a year
- Boys Middle School Wrestling – year two have 21 boys registered. This is a growing program
- Late times of practice will impact access to coaches and facilities.
- Late times could impact access to bus transportation for competition.
- Analysis of Classic Lake Teams Middle School Release Times
SOLUTION - Work with Athletics on access to gyms after school and timing of after school activity bus
- Work with Athletics and transportation
- Work with EHS and MS regarding staffing options
Volunteer Programs for elementary, middle school and high school:
- Minimal impact to adult volunteers at schools
- Would impact EHS tutoring/homework volunteers for Elementary students. (Approx. 70+)
- SOLUTION - Work with elementary after school to offer this at a different time
- Minimal impact to Community Resource Program volunteers