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School Board approves 2017-18 school start/end times

Bus After months of research, task force meetings, public discussions and community input, the Edina School Board approved a plan for school start and end times at its Jan. 9 meeting. Following numerous public comments from parents, students and staff, the Board discussed the options presented and ultimately rejected district administration’s recommendation on a 5-2 vote, with Randy Meyer and Regina Neville voting in favor of the recommendation, and Amir Gharbi, David Goldstein, Lisa O’Brien, Sarah Patzloff and Leny Wallen-Friedman voting against it. The Board created and approved what it called a “modified white option,” based on a plan offered as an alternative to the administration’s recommended plan.

The Board’s plan is similar to the current three-tier transportation model and aligns with the administration’s recommendation to shorten the middle school day to align with the high school. It also adjusts all school times to ensure more realistic run times for bus transportation. However, with the Board’s approved plan, two elementary schools will move to new tiers next year: Creek Valley will move from Tier 3 to Tier 1, and Concord will move from Tier 2 to Tier 3. Voting in favor of the new plan were Wallen-Friedman, Gharbi, Goldstein and Neville. Voting against the plan were Meyer, O’Brien and Patzloff.

Board Approved 2017-18 Plan
Start/End Times  
 * Note that exact start and end times may be adjusted by a few minutes once administration runs new bus routes per the approved plan and considers additional efficiencies as available.

School Board Discussion (1-9-17)

Administration’s recommendation sought to move middle school start times from the earliest to latest, adjustments based on brain development and sleep research, and to move most elementary schools into the earliest tier, which some felt is better for child development and learning.

Recognizing that a decision needed to be made to allow families to plan and administration to put implementation plans in place, the Board continued its discussion late into the evening with a series of new motions and amendments by various board members in an effort to seek a majority approval for a school start/end time plan. Of the concerns raised, several members commented on the
lateness of proposed middle school start and end times and the impact on before and after school activities.

“If we were just voting on the academic day, I would support administration’s recommendation,” said Goldstein. “However, I strongly believe that what happens with student activities before and after school, and impacts on the family, are also important to consider.”

Patzloff also raised concerns about the impact of early start times on elementary students, a decision that would carry an impact for six years compared to the three years of middle school. “It is just such a heavy burden on our families,” she said. “While at first I was a big supporter of later start times for middle school, I just cannot make that shift in comparison to the impact on our elementary families.”

O’Brien noted the challenges of many changes already happening in the district, including strategic initiatives and construction, and was concerned about making more changes for staff and families.

For Wallen-Friedman, Neville and Meyer, the administration’s recommendation represented thorough research and best practice and aligned with what was in the best interest academically for all students. Meyer noted concern that voting against the recommendation did not align with the Board’s charge and parameters developed last spring. Wallen-Friedman said he voted against the original recommendation because he favored a similar plan that would have cost the district more money. 
Wallen-Friedman also said that to adopt a plan that cost the district more money but did not address other parameters - such as best practice around brain development, sleep and learning - was not a wise use of district funds, especially since the original parameter said a plan should work within existing transportation services resources. "If we are going to spend money and disrupt the schedule, we should at least be doing so in a way that improve the academic environment for students."   


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.

Additional Information 

Click here for additional information on the district’s School Start/End Times Study. 

Click here or view the Jan. 9, 21017 School Board discussion and action