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School Board discusses draft school start/end time recommendation, looks ahead to gathering community input

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.

At a work session on Jan. 18, the Edina School Board continued its study of school start/end times for Edina Public Schools (EPS). The discussion focused on a draft administrative recommendation of a three-tier schedule that would flip elementary and middle school start/end times.

According to Superintendent John Schultz, “Based on past discussions and research and information provided, Edina Public Schools administration recommends that students will be better served when middle school students start school later (third tier) and elementary students start earlier (first tier).”

Schultz and elementary principal representative Chris Holden of Normandale Elementary shared recently gathered feedback from district Lead Team members and building principals about the proposal. Holden said that principals support the recommendations and see it as an educational change that is supported in research and it makes “good common sense.”

With this information, the Board then discussed the identified opportunities and challenges presented with the draft recommendation, as well as additional data requested at previous work sessions, including impact on middle school activities. 

Earlier this fall, the School Board embarked on a second phase of its School Start and End Times Study, establishing a study process outlined and presented in report shared at a meeting on Sept. 25. Since then School Board has reviewed and discussed student engagement as it relates to starting and ending school and conducted a transportation efficiency study. It also held a public listening session on Nov. 27 from which additional governance questions were developed in order for the Board to continue its work and move toward a decision.

Following up on its Jan. 8 discussion, the Board focused Thursday’s discussion on evaluating the draft recommendation that moved elementary schools to an earlier start and middle schools to a later start. Community Education Director Valerie Burke shared her analysis of impacts and possible solutions for before and after school programs if such a change were to be implemented. Similarly, EHS Assistant Principal/Activities Director Troy Stein provided data gathered and an analysis of the impact of changes on athletic programs available to middle school students.

While no decision was made, the Board gather preliminary input from its members on the proposal to inform next steps for administration and the ad hoc Subcommittee on School Start/End Times, which includes Board members Leny Wallen-Friedman, Amir Gharbi and Erica Allenburg, as well as Schultz, Director of Business Services Margo Bauck and Transportation Supervisor David White. The majority of Board members noted that they agreed with the proposal but would like to continue to seek input from students, staff and families on how the changes would impact them. The Board plans to continue discussion of the study in the coming weeks in accordance with its study timeline. They also charged the ad hoc committee with identifying opportunities for public input, including two public hearings in February. The Board also encouraged updating the Frequently Asked Questions about school start/end times on the district’s website.