Looking at School Start and End Times

Updated March 12: Looking at School Start and End times

Thanks again, blog commenters, for all of your feedback. On March 11, I emailed staff and families an update on our next steps in this process and shared some of the most popular themes on this blog and in our survey. I won’t be responding directly to each and every blog comment, but I wanted to reiterate a few thoughts.

There are a few driving factors in this proposal. One is that the American Pediatric Association, representing children’s doctors around the country, have asked us to do so. They released a new report this year directly requesting that school districts change start times for middle and high school to no earlier than 8:30 am.  They say adolescents’ bodies are not fully functioning that early, regardless of how much sleep they have had.  They say a later start time will have an impact on student achievement, lower student driving accidents, decrease obesity and increase health.  While some may argue these points, that is what the medical profession is asking of us.

The second reason is that the state of Washington is increasing the graduation requirements for students, starting with this year’s eighth graders (graduates of 2019). They will need to get 24 credits to graduate.  With our current six-period day, students can get 24 credits if they make no mistakes – there is no room for error). Other districts have 7-period days or even 8-period days, allowing students to get 28 to 32 credits.  Other districts also have longer school days; we are one of the shortest.  The last part of this is many middle and high school students cannot fit in the classes they want. They have to waive physical education (PE) for example in middle or high school. Some students have the opportunity to take a zero hour class at ~6:30 am, but not everyone because we don’t provide bus transportation at that hour.  We are trying to find a way to extend the day and give more opportunities for students to take courses that they are passionate about.

The 7:45 am elementary start time idea is not ideal…that is why we are asking for feedback.  For some families it is too early, while for many others, the current 8:30 am start time is too late.  They have to drop their kids off at childcare as early as 6:30 am.

As you can see this is a complex issue with many different viewpoints. Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback and for taking the time to share your input. I very much appreciate it. Please continue to comment on this blog – I get a notice every time someone posts a comment, so I do read all of your feedback.

And as much as I enjoy the digital dialogue, I may be reaching out to some of you who have commented on the blog to further discuss our proposal and next steps face-to-face.
Greg

3/2/2015

I wanted to share some ideas and get your thoughts.  In an effort to provide more opportunities for students to “discover and develop a passion” as called out in the Vision Statement of The Bellingham Promise, and to support more sleep for our adolescents, as called for by the American Pediatrics Association and others, we have been studying how we can improve our school schedules and school start and end times.

We’re aiming for implementation in the 2016-17 school year (next year will remain the same).

We want to start high school later in the morning. Many studies (like this one and this one) show that teenage brains benefit from more sleep. (I know. We ALL need more sleep, but there’s a lot of compelling research about teenagers in particular.)

I recently met with our Student Advisory Council, which includes student representatives from all of our high schools, and they shared thoughtful pros and cons to starting high school at 8:15 am.

We are also considering extending the high school and middle school day by up to 30 minutes. This would allow more time for increased course offerings, including visual and performing arts, world language and STEM related courses. Thirty more minutes may not seem like a lot, but it adds up to 90 more hours per year for our kids!

If we really want students to develop a passion, we need to give them an opportunity to learn and explore more subjects and disciplines. We consistently hear from students that their schedules are too tight and that they can’t take all the classes they want.

As you can probably imagine, this isn’t a “small potatoes” idea. It will take a significant, districtwide effort. It will have implications for ALL levels (including elementary, which, based on our current thinking, could start at 7:45 a.m.), transportation, staffing, budget – you name it. That’s why we’re aiming for August 2016.

I’d love to hear what you think. Don’t forget you can take this survey, too, through March 9.

Comments (135)

  1. Andreas Macke

    3 years ago

    Regarding transportation – has there been any consideration of alternatives to providing designated school bus routes for high school students? For quite a few of the neighborhoods currently served by buses, there are pretty convenient WTA alternatives. High schoolers are pretty capable, so having them navigate the public bus system shouldn’t be a problem, and from a cost perspective, providing WTA bus passes to the students on one or two high school routes where that is a viable alternative might prove significantly less expensive than expanding school bus service. I don’t know what the state funding rules around this sort of thing are and whether that makes it impossible – if it is, it might be worth looking into.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for this comment. Utilizing WTA is a great idea. We have met with WTA several times, and we are continuing to explore options with them in an effort to reduce our routes. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Kathy

    3 years ago

    I hate this proposal. I absolutely hate the idea of elementary starting so early. I know teens need more sleep but little kids need sleep, too. Teens probably prefer having more of the afternoon off for extra curriculars and jobs, anyway.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. We are continuing to work through this proposal, and we will continue to keep you in the loop as things evolve. It’s truly in the draft stages, so we are grateful for the input.

  3. Paul Horja

    3 years ago

    I am the concerned father of a 1st grader at Lowell, and of two younger daughters. As far as our family is concerned, it would be a disaster to have elementary school start at 7:45 am. We believe that the impact on our children’s education would be devastating. Younger kids’ brains benefit from more sleep too!

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Paul, thanks for the comment. I understand your concern, and we’re continuing to weigh all the pros and cons to this proposal. What is hard for one family is great for another. I hear from parents that our current schedule is challenging for them and/or their kids. We won’t be able to develop the “perfect” scenario, but like I said, we’re just in the beginning stages of this process.

  4. Guest

    3 years ago

    My child is in middle school and currently has between 30-36 kids in each class. At the end of the day, the middle school kids go to their ‘Compass’ class which as far as I can tell is an ill-defined glorified study hall. Why not put an elective in that spot? You already have the teachers? I do like that you are trying to work towards thoughtful solutions for the kids in the district but what I see is the district starting and stopping programs and dancing around the tough issues around funding. Class sizes need to decrease in size by law now but there is no money to do so. I would rather have smaller class sizes (aka more teachers) for all grades than make sweeping and possibly expensive changes to the length of the school day. One problem and a time. You have a tough job so thank you for not giving up!

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. You’ll be happy to know that a key part of this proposal is to decrease class size at the middle school level. But you’re right: funding is key. If we move forward with this proposal, it would be a significant budget item – which means more funding would go toward hiring teachers and staff to decrease class size and increase elective offerings. And oh, how I wish we could dance around the funding issue, but it’s always here, staring us right in the face! Another funding option is to run a transportation levy. That’s not in our current plan, but it’s a possible route for the district.

    • Jessica

      3 years ago

      It’s interesting to see the different perspective of parents regarding Compass. My 6th grader really likes compass because it adds a sense of safety and community. Her middle school has dealt with some bullying issues and she thinks that having one period a day where she mixes with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to focus and work on those non-academic character traits really helps the sense of community at her school. She feels more confident and less intimidated because she knows kids now at all grade levels. Without Compass, the different age groups don’t really get that opportunity to intermingle otherwise. My 6th grader is looking forward to next year where she can step into a mentoring role via Compass for the younger kids coming into middle school. I don’t see Compass as a glorified study hall at all. I see value in it.

      Dr. Baker – how frustrating for you to try to please everyone when opinions differ so much. Thanks for taking the time to ask for feedback though. It is much appreciated!

  5. Hui-Ling Chan

    3 years ago

    We appreciate the consideration for start and end time. There’s enough research out there on this, how it can significantly impact learning and most importantly, the long term health of our children and at the end our society (given that we are in the unresolvable national debt and a lot on health care). This is worth the cost to change.

  6. Pete

    3 years ago

    I could not be more in favor of this proposal. We have an elementary schooler.

    Earlier start time will be an adjustment for everyone in the family, no doubt, but the research on teens and sleep is too compelling – and I know we’ll be there soon enough. It’s easier for me to get our younger child to bed/sleep earlier to accommodate an earlier start than it is for our middle schooler.

    So keep going – this is the right direction.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the reflection. I agree adjustments are hard, but some change is worth making. And thanks for the encouragement, too!

  7. Amy Terrell

    3 years ago

    This is a very positive change in my opinion. When this change would take place I’d have an elementary aged child (5th grade) and a high school age child (9th grade). I’ve been through a few different start/stop times now with this age spread. I find that this one is a step in the right direction. The research is very compelling for the older kids. Also, it is much easier to get your 2nd grader to bed earlier than it is to get your 8th grader.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Amy, thanks for the comment. It’s encouraging to hear that this proposed schedule would work for you and your family. Your point is well taken that in general it does seem easier to get an elementary student to bed than an older student. Thanks for the feedback, and we’ll continue to keep you and all our families in the loop as we work on our next iteration of the plan.

  8. Marie

    3 years ago

    While I understand that some families will struggle with an earlier start time for elementary students, I also know that younger kids can handle the earlier hour as long as they have reasonable bed times. We didn’t have a choice when my son was in preschool – we had to get to work and so he got up at 630am with us and was out the door by 7:20am so I could drop him off by 7:45 and get to work. I didn’t love it, but my son never suffered. He will be in middle school in a few years and I feel that accommodating this change in elementary school will pay off in spades when he moves onto middle and high school. Thank you for your thoughtful analysis and study. It can’t be easy trying to balance the needs of entire district!

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for your comment and recognizing it’s not easy to balance the needs of the entire district. We have over 7,500 families and 1,300 staff to consider! That’s a lot of variables – working schedules, number of kids, kids’ ages, transportation, special accommodations…and the list goes on.

  9. Megan

    3 years ago

    My child will enter Elementary school this fall, and I am actually really pleased that start time may move to 7:45. As a working parent, this will eliminate the need for before-school care for my child, and I suspect that it will do the same for many families who have an 8 AM start to their workday. Small kids go to bed earlier (or should)and could get an earlier start to help spread out those resources so the teenagers can have a later start. I think that fewer transitions for small kids in working families in the morning is another benefit. This is great! I hope it happens.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. We’ll keep you posted! We’re getting great, thoughtful feedback – both good and constructive thus far. Thanks again.

  10. Kelli Swanson

    3 years ago

    I love this idea. I know it’s easy to say that all children need sleep but the research has been clear and ignored for a very long time. As a mother of 4 (soon to be 5) this new schedule would impact my family too. I would very happily get up with a toddler and a newborn in order to get my grade school child and middle school child out the door early if it means that my child going into high school gets the best shot at an excellent education in the hardest years he will have in the public school system. I think anyone that has a grade school age child now should think about what they would want for their son or daughter when they enter high school.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the comment, and we appreciate your insight. Your sentiment is the inspiration for our draft plan. We understand any schedule change has a significant impact on our families, which is why we’re trying to get these conversations started earlier than later.

  11. Guest

    3 years ago

    While the earlier schedule for my elementary school student sounds wonderful for my work schedule- it sounds terrible for my son’s young and still growing/developing body which is most important. I support your thoughts regarding high school students need for sleep, but not at the expense of our youngest students.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. I’m finding that no elementary family is alike! Some young children are up by 6 am and for others, our current 8:30 am start time is a challenge. I can say we certainly don’t want any plan to feel like it’s coming at the “expense” of any group of students or families. We will continue to wrestle with this plan and please know that your feedback is appreciated.

  12. GuestAMy

    3 years ago

    I agree that high school should start later BUT I do not think it is ok for elementary schools to start at 7:45 either!!! I suggest leaving elementary and middle schools the same and making high school start after middle school! Kids in high school can get themselves to school and dont need parents to do it for them as much as kids in elementary and middle school.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your perspective. I wish we were able to have elementary and middle schools start at the same time (or even have start times closer together), but it’s a challenge because of the transportation issue. They need about ~45 minutes between each run with our current bus fleet. We’ve also heard from some families that high school kids can help their younger elementary school-aged siblings get ready for school under this proposal. It’s hard to find the perfect solution for everyone.

      • MArc

        3 years ago

        If the older siblings are helping the younger it goes against what you are saying for sleep. So get them to school. When you went to early release you said the community would adapt, it hasn’t it has just placed the financial burden on the families. Once again you are punishing those families that have two working parents.

        • gbaker

          3 years ago

          Thanks for the comment. This idea is not meant to be punitive in any way. Each family is different – and for some, having an older sibling available may be important. Maybe they walk or drive their hypothetical sibling to school, then go back home and finish getting ready for their school day. I’m not sure. And some of our community organizations do offer activities and programs on Thursdays for early release (ex. YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc). We have also reduced the number of early dismissals. The amount of overall instructional time for students has increased, which actually reduces the amount of time some families have to find alternative childcare.

          • marc zipfel

            3 years ago

            The community has NOT adapted the Y and B&G club was always there and costs MONEY. The purple days are NOT being used appropriately instead teachers are taken out of the classroom where they should be to attend meetings and TPEP. What is your real agenda, we all ready know this is 95% a done deal per people in the department of teaching and learning so is this just lip service?

      • L

        3 years ago

        How can the high schoolers help their elementary school siblings get ready if they’re busy getting extra sleep?

  13. Guest

    3 years ago

    I HATE the proposal. I see highschool as part of college and real life prep. In the real adult world , if you want and need more sleep you go to bed earlier. Not call your boss or college professor and let them know you want to sleep in longer. They are nearing a time when they need to start waking up early for college and jobs and this helps them adjust their schedules to that. If teens need more sleep, they need to get to bed earlier. The highschool students are nearig adulthood and can make reposinsible choices for themselves and get themselves to and from school. The elementary students need sleep just as much and can’t take reaponsibility over their sleep habits and sleep needs. They rely on parents to do so and many parents do not put their elementary kids to bed until 9-9:30. Not to mention, Starting at 7:45 means parents are having to also wake up even earlier to get their elementary kids to and from school, because unlike highschool aged kids, they need their parents to help them do all of that.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. Again, what works for one family, may not work for others. I’m hearing from some elementary parents that they like the earlier start, while others think it’s really challenging. And while high school is just one step away from college and employment, high school kids are still adolescents with developing brains.

    • Guest

      3 years ago

      The college and job argument is mute for the reason students can basically create their schedules in college. With a job you can choose a position that fits the schedule you want (not as nearly as easy as college of course).

      I believe having the high school students starting later is a great idea. Research supports and I remember I would have appreciated it growing up. I don’t think I like elementary starting earlier though. I wouldn’t mind high school starting at 9:00am, so students can get optimal sleep.

      • Peter

        3 years ago

        The college and job argument is NOT a mute point because students actually can’t fully create their own schedules in college. They must work their schedules around what is offered, with the majority or classes offered in the morning/ early afternoon so that the majority of college students can work in the afternoon/evening.

        Later in life, it is much more likely that you will change your schedule to fit around your job than find a job that fits around your schedule. Life’s just not like that.

        We all know that in high school, knowing we could wake up later we’d just stay up later. It wouldn’t have gotten us any more sleep to start later and it wont have that effect now either.

  14. Patti

    3 years ago

    First of all, thank you so much for soliciting feedback from the community about this issue. My kids are in high school and only one would be affected by the proposal, but I feel so strongly that at least the high school students need to start school later. There is so much research to support it that I think it’s almost irresponsible to not make a change. One idea my kids had was just a flexible schedule in the high school. Could the school day begin at 7:45 for one block and another at, say, 8:45? What if that were offered as an option?-(Maybe kids that wanted to start at 8:45 would have to be responsible for getting themselves to school.?) Would the cost be higher than the proposal or balance out?
    Very complex, for sure.–No matter how it’s done, I strongly support a later start time for secondary students.

    Thanks to the team for working on this.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Yes, a student could flex their schedule and come later in the day. The seven-period day allows flexibility on both ends of a high school student’s day. Thanks for the comment.

  15. Joanna

    3 years ago

    If one of the three groups must start early, it makes the most sense for elementary to be earliest, though i think it will be rough for kindergartners. If the times must indeed be staggered, then 745, 815, 845 seems ideal. I do not support any school starting later than 9am. I’m also concerned about middle school going as late as 4pm. won’t their pre-teen brains shut down late afternoon? will there be energy left for extra-curriculars after school? that is a late day!

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Joanna, thanks for the comment. I completely understand your concern. We’ve been working with transportation a lot on this question. They’ve put together dozens of scenarios for us (thank you, Rae Anne!), but they keep coming back to needing ~45 minutes in between each run — that’s with our current bus fleet. If we purchase more buses, we would likely be talking about a transportation levy (which our current plan avoids).

  16. Chris

    3 years ago

    While I’m supportive of a later start for our high school students, I very much disagree with the additional 30 minutes of school time being considered. One would think with the technological advances and widespread online access, the actual time that our students spend at school could be reduced. So why is the Bellingham School District heading the other way? What will happen to all the after school activities like sports, music, theater etc. as the school day extends for another hour into the afternoon? I don’t see much downtime for our high school and middle school students anymore if these changes are being implemented, especially if the amount of homework is not being reduced.

    I’m also skeptical of the financial implications of the proposals. Just a few years ago our school district was in a financial crisis, where programs and staffing had to be cut. Despite the approval of the levy and the hope for increased state funding, responsible budgeting still needs to have priority.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. Under this plan, students would have more flexibility to take music, theater, or art class as part of their school day (as well as other classes like technology, world language, etc). Our school day is shorter than many around the state and country, limiting options for our students. We’re working with our high school activities and athletic coordinators to have minimal impact to afterschool activities. We also will have new athletic fields that are lit at three of our high schools, allowing more flexibility for when teams play and practice. And yes, it’s very important that we are financially prudent in all our decisions. And yes, like many businesses and organizations around the state and country, we experienced budget cuts a few years ago. But now we’re hopeful that the state will adequately fund education.

  17. Guest

    3 years ago

    Our family supports the efforts in general. We have two elementary students (K and 4th), and a 7:45 start time will fit well for our family. We agree that younger children have a much easier time getting up early than do high schoolers. Yes, that means they’ll need more structure in the evening so that they can get to bed early enough to get a full night of sleep, but my husband and I see that as our part of the school-home partnership.

    We fully agree that high schoolers need a later start time. Thank you for (finally!) responding to the overwhelming number of studies that support this action.

    We are somewhat concerned about adding additional time to the school day, and would support this if the school will be providing extracuricular (music, art, sports) within the school time as there will be little to no time for that (particularly for middle schoolers with a 9-4 schedule). For those that bus home, if on a long route- they may not be home until almost 5! I question whether this would be a disservice to kids as late afternoon sleepiness sets in. Also, the long hours really puts the onerous on schools to be a welcoming, positive place for our kids. If kids already dislike school, it could be a disinsentive to increase the time they are required to attend. I wonder if already at risk kids would drop out at a higher rate. We also hope that there will be flexibility with the longer school days for late arrival and early dismissal if students are meeting the required number of credits, and that the increase in time will be somewhat voluntary.

    Are you also checking in with the students at the middle and high schools? I would suggest there are some pretty smart and thoughtful students with opinions and suggestions to offer.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment. I think it is important to engage with families when schedule changes are being considered.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Yes, the concept behind a longer day is to provide more courses that kids are passionate about, whether that is ceramics, orchestra, choir, STEM, etc… It also would reduce or eliminate the need for zero hour classes, since those could be moved to within the school day, allowing even more sleep for many students. This would also eliminate the issue around transportation to zero hour classes, where currently only some students have access. I’m glad you are addressing the middle school students – the later drop off is an important factor for us to consider, but in reality, very few kids have that long of a bus ride. We try to keep all routes to an hour. And yes, we are checking in with all high school students . I’ve met with about half of all students at this point, and we’re doing surveys and live polls with them to ask about later start times, extending the day and what types of electives they’d be interested in with the extra 30-minutes. And I agree with the flexibility: having high school students start later or end earlier would be an important part of this new plan. There may be a senior, for example, on track to graduate, who doesn’t take a 7th period so they can get to work…or on the flip-side a senior, on-track to graduate, who doesn’t take a first period, and has even more time to sleep.

  18. Guest

    3 years ago

    This proposal is rediculous! By the time it goes into effect, I will have 2 kids in Elementary school. How am I going to explain to them that they have been forced to start school almost an hour earlier because the older kids just can’t get themselves out of bed on time? Adequate sleep is a necessity for everybody, not just teenagers and forcing the youngest group to shoulder that load is unspeakable! High school students are mature enough to understand the importance of getting enough sleep and the repercussions if they do not. If they are unable to do so now, how are they going to conduct themselves in the real world? Whether it be college, a job, or God forbid becoming a parent, you’re ultimately setting them up for failure. I am honestly shocked that this is even up for consideration and will NEVER support it.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. I agree adequate sleep is important for everyone. As you can see from other blog responses, other families feel similarly…while others completely agree with the 7:45 start time for elementary. We’re realizing there’s no “perfect” schedule because every family is different; I think it’s important for us all to remember that we have over 7,500 families in our district with unique circumstances.

    • Yourr means of explaining all in this post iis really nice, every one be capable of simply know it, Thanks
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  19. Guest

    3 years ago

    The proposal says elementary 7:45am – 2:15pm as a 6-1/2 hour school day with potential for 7-hr day in the future. How would a 7-hr day be possible? If elementary got out at 2:45pm, that does not meet the 45 minutes needed between routes when HS gets out at 3:15.
    I have a 3rd grader and an 8th grader. The 3rd grader needs way more sleep – she struggles to wake up after 10-1/2 hours, while the 8th grader is up on his own after 9hrs max. The studies I have seen indicate that elementary age group needs more sleep than middle school (dropping off with age), with another rise in need for sleep in the teens. Has there been any thought to having middle school earliest, followed by HS and then MS? For example:

    Middle school: 7:45 – 2:45 (7 hrs)
    High school: 8:30 – 3:30 (7 hrs)
    Elementary school: 9:45 – 4:15 (6 1/2 hours with potential to revise to 9:15 start time to increase to a 7 hr day)

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the response. We’re working with transportation on all of these logistics, but it sounds like they could make it work with an extended elementary day (6.75 hours to be exact) with a dismissal at 2:30 pm and high school dismissal at 3:15 pm . And I certainly agree about all kids needing sleep. And your suggested schedule may work for some kids, but I would imagine a fair number of families would then need before-school care for kids. It’s very complex – and I appreciate your ideas.

      • Guest

        3 years ago

        Yes, with a late-start elementary, more before-school care is needed. But with the early-start elementary that is proposed, more after-school care will be needed. Why isn’t early-start for middle school being considered?

  20. Guest

    3 years ago

    I think having elementary school students start at 7:45 is MUCH too early. Elementary school kids need the most sleep of all these age groups. My daughter is in 1st grade, and this early start time would be very difficult for her. Furthermore, I do not understand why the middle school students are planned as having the latest start time. If the high school students need more sleep, especially in the morning, why not have the high school start at 9:00 instead?
    For working parents, of which I am one, the even earlier release time of 2:15 would mean that elementary school kids are spending more time in after school programs, meaning more financial burden on parents who are already financially stretched. Many kids would be spending 3 or more hours in after school programs – this is too long.
    Already the elementary school kids have one half-day every week, and one whole day off every month. Cannot some of this time be built back into the school day to account for the hours of class time needed.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      We did consider the 9 am start for high school, but many of the students’ we’ve polled and surveyed said they would not want to be dismissed at 4 pm due to jobs and other after-school activities, like athletics. And we are definitely weighing the impact and need of before- and after-school care for our elementary families. Currently, the YMCA has before- and after-school programs at 13 of the 14 elementary schools. Most start an hour or two before school. So for many working parents, an earlier release time would be less time in after school programs; it really depends on the parent’s work schedule. Some start earlier than others.
      And your question about early dismissal and the “staff learning days” on Fridays once a month is a good one. Our school year calendar (not be confused with our schedule… yes, it’s confusing!) was set In June 2014 in the negotiations process with the teachers’ association for the next four years (through the 2017-18 school year), so we don’t have a lot of flexibility there. That said, the no school Fridays are in addition to the 180 days, so yes, parents need to find childcare, but the number of days in the summer to find childcare have decreased, so it’s net zero. We have also greatly reduced the number of early dismissals across the system with the new calendar, which is saving many families childcare costs.

      • Guest

        3 years ago

        As a parent who has her child currently enrolled in Y care for both morning and afternoon on the school grounds I can attest to that fact that early morning Y care is very little used. It is never full, and I have never seen more than 5 children in the morning Y, ever. The after school Y-care is a different matter. It is generally FULL, and fills up fast, especially on early release days. If the school day ends at 2:00 in the future, and at 12:00 on early release days, there is only going to be more demand for after-school care.
        Full time working people cannot leave their jobs for the day at 1:45. (Could you Mr. Baker leave your job for the day every day at 1:45, and at 11:45 on Thursdays?) This will just make the time little kids are spending on the school grounds very long, as they get to school at 7:30/7:45, and do not leave until 5:15 or 5:30.

  21. mom of three

    3 years ago

    I understand the need to adjust school start times and how that effects all students given the transportation system in place. The problem I have as a working mother of three children is having three hours after school to arrange for childcare for grade school age kids. I feel as though the working parents are at a disadvantage and in turn so are the children of working parents. At this time my husband has been able to alter his work schedule to align with our child’s school schedule. If/when the schedule changes someone will need to be home to greet our children home by 2:15ish. It is difficult to alter a work schedule and still meet the demands of a job.

    I do not often complain without some solution. I propose if the schedules change, particularly when speaking about grade schoolers, there are more quality after school programs available. I propose these be school/pta sponsored and are either free, affordable, or they are on a sliding fee scale/scholarship. I propose we support the boys and girls club by providing transportation to their facility so kids have safe place to be after school. Currently there is no transportation to the boys and girls club to and from most schools in the district.

    Child care is expensive. This expense will only increase if kids are needing after school care for longer periods of time. This will be a financial burden on families. I understand some will no longer be in need of before school care, but before school care is not as greatly used as our after school care programs currently are.

    Working parents already struggle with early release days, monthly teacher work days, and what they will do with their children on those days. I hope we can find a middle ground and ensure the school district, the students, and parents’ needs are met.

    I want people to genuinely consider what it would look like for kiddos after school. Where will they go after school? Is there someone to pick them up and be home with them? Are kids safe? And…are we honoring families?

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      We want after-school enrichment at all of our schools, AND it’s emerging as an important need at our elementary schools, so I completely agree that we would like to offer quality programs with little or no financial burden on our families. One of my goals is to have our schools’ doors open to students and our community beyond the school day to help meet families’ needs. Shuksan Middle School is a great example of a school that offers student and family support from early in the morning through the evening (including breakfast, dinner and outstanding learning opportunities).

      • Christina Hakes

        3 years ago

        But elementary kids shouldn’t spend anymore extra time after school. True, some may use early before school childcare, but that certainly is a small percentage and less than the number of kids put into afterschool programs. This is too long of a day for small children. Way too early, way too long for families that work, which is most of us. Majority should rule on this.

        • gbaker

          3 years ago

          Thanks for your comment. Please remember that what you see at your school is only representative of 1/14 of all elementary schools or 1/22 of all of our schools. What may seem/be small at one school may be a significant factor at another school. We really try to do what’s best for all 11,000+ of our students and families, but we realize we won’t reach perfection for all.

  22. Raine Dozier

    3 years ago

    I think I understand the thinking behind the extra 30 minutes. For high schoolers it would provide 7 periods and they would use one of them for lunch. Is that correct? Also, I would hope that the schools could offer more courses generally, not just art, music, etc. For example, there are very few optional English courses at Sehome. You can only take creative writing, Shakespeare, etc. in 12th grade.Same with science–very few options besides the required courses.

    As far as the later start for high school and earlier start for elementary–that always seemed to make the most sense to me.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. At this point, we’re thinking students would choose how to use that extra period – but we’d encourage students to tap into a field or area of interest without over-burdening students and families with more homework. But an important component of the high school schedule is flexibility. I can’t say with certainly that we’d have more English offerings at Sehome; we’re surveying our students to ask what they would like to take with those additional 30 minutes per day.

  23. Guest

    3 years ago

    Our family supports this proposal fully. We have an elementary student right now and appreciate that when he is in middle and high school, he won’t have to limit his options. He we have the opportunity to participate in more electives, taking both music and foreign languages, rather than having to pick between the two in middle school. A seven period day with adequate class time for high quality instruction will make a world of difference for middle and high school opportunities.

    The earlier start for our elementary student fits well with our family’s schedule. My wife and I both work and we have to drop our child off and pay for before school child care as it is.

    Thank you for asking for our feedback, we are 100% supportive.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you!

      • Working Mom

        3 years ago

        Hi – I missed the survey deadline and wanted to offer my opinion. I completely agree that teenagers need more sleep, and have often commented that the HS 7:45 start time is ridiculous for many reasons (i.e. lack of sleep, allowing teenagers out of school early in the afternoon with ample time to get into trouble before parents get home from work). However, it’s unreasonable to expect elementary school kids to start their day this early as well. The real issue here is that you need more buses so all of the kids can start at 8:30 or later – just like a normal job.

        Furthermore, you need to consider the effects of having a 2:15 release time on working parents. I already have to juggle our schedules with enough daycare and nannies, and don’t need to tack on an additional hour each day. On top of that you’ve left us to contend with early release days and monthly teacher workdays – in addition to the numerous breaks and paid holidays. In order to compensate for this screwy schedule you took away a week of our summer vacation – a time that most families treasure having with their kids since it’s the only few months in the PNW where the weather is actually decent and you can do things.

        You seriously need to re-think your entire school schedule – and while you’re at it maybe consider having a school board made up of working parents who have actually been involved in child education.

  24. Guest

    3 years ago

    Thoughts from students
    I appreciate the careful thought the BSD is using to come up with solutions which address the Bellingham Promise and current research.
    I talked with several high school students about the proposed schedule knowing that you have already surveyed some students. Almost all of these students currently take a “0” hour class, AP classes, and are involved in extra curricular activities. That means they already have 7 classes and yet most of them must take Running Start or classes on-line to fit in the classes that drive their passions. These are mostly very good students who are responsible and have developed some great life-long skills. Unfortunately they typically go to school from 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. when their extra-curricular activities end. After that they eat dinner and then do homework almost every night until 10:30 – 12:00 a.m. before they can go to sleep.
    Their response to this schedule was that if they lose “0” hour, they will not have gained anything and most likely will just go to bed later at night to complete what they need to for school and to follow their passions. Given the choice, they would like to continue to take the “0” hour classes.
    I know that the two members of the committee who worked on this schedule AND teach “0” hour classes have the biggest programs in their discipline in the BSD and would like to see these “0” hour classes cut because they would like to have students taking these enriching classes take ONLY these enriching classes and not the advanced level classes that continue to teach the main skills they need to be very successful in their passion. Other staff and these students would like to continue to offer the enriching “0” hour classes in addition to their advanced larger groups. This would allow them to actually get another elective. Please don’t dismiss this out of hand, but think about everyone in the BSD.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Great input and comment. The zero hour classes are difficult because there is a portion of our student population that can’t access many performing arts classes due to lack of transportation. This proposal is a result of not only the great work our middle and high school schedule committees did, but also our visual and performing arts committee.
      We are very mindful of our over-extended and over-burdened students; this proposal would allow for more time and flexibility to the school day, but our intent is not to add to homework/pressures. That said, students (and parents) need to make decisions about what classes and activities they take and commit to. Our job as a district is to present a variety of opportunities – but they make the choice.

  25. Guest

    3 years ago

    While I know a proposal such as this is never going to make everyone happy I do appreciate you soliciting feedback from the families this actually effects. It’s one thing to a school board consideringi mission statements & studies but it’s a totally different thing to a mom who will have to wake her elementary age children each day to go to school. As it is we are pushing our young students so hard with all day kindergarten & less & less free time & recess time replacing it with more structured time in the class so that teachers have opportunity to touch on all that’s required. Now we also want to have their days start even earlier? I know you can’t look at just one age group when considering something of this magnitude but please don’t forget our little ones who are being shaped into our big kids already have much more on their plate than we ever did at their age. Can’t we just ease them into it? Thank you.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your feedback. While I’ve heard many similar comments about not wanting to wake young kids up, I have also received input from parents whose kids go to school by 7 am for before-school care. The research we’ve seen on meaningful early childhood development is very powerful and our kindergarten program aims to balance developing “learner attributes” (social skills) and learning standards – with play and recess, too! It’s about setting our children up for a successful, rich life. And thanks for recognizing it’s hard to make everyone happy!

  26. LC

    3 years ago

    I am not at all in support of this. I love how the video glossed over the tired elementary kids. You show a youngster sitting (depressingly) with their arms around their legs and suddenly they blossom into an older, happier child. I’m sorry, but elementary school is SIX years – longer than middle or high schools.

    Medical studies show that kids need the following hours of sleep:

    3-6 Years Old: 10 – 12 hours per day
    7-12 Years Old: 10 – 11 hours per day
    12-18 Years Old: 8 – 9 hours per day

    It’s very plausible that a kinder and first grader could be needing 12 hours sleep a night. Given an hour to get ready for school (up, dressed, eat, teeth brushed and backpack packed) and assuming that a parent drops off the child (vs taking the bus, which adds a lot of time) that means that a child would need to be up at 6:45 am to arrive to school on time and prepared. If a child sleeps 12 hours then they’d need to be in bed by 6:45 (assuming that they fall asleep immediately). This leaves hardly any family time.

    Now let’s look at a busing scenario. School starts at 7:45, bus comes at 7:10. Child must be up by 6:20 (removing 10 minutes since parent isn’t dropping off). That is way too early for a 5 year old to be waking up. Also, that means the youngest kids will be standing out at the bus stop in the dark.

    This solution is NOT a good solution. Go back to the drawing board. Surely all the people earning big bucks can put their highly educated heads together to come up with a solution that MAKES SENSE.

    Move the start time to 7:45 and I promise you my (elementary school age) children will be tardy every day. I refuse to sacrifice their sleep and well-being for this cause.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      I’m sorry you felt that we were glossing over the elementary start time. As you point out, our 14 elementary schools make up a significant portion of our students and staff. Early childhood is a key strategy in The Bellingham Promise, and we have made great strides to improve our support and offerings to our youngest learners. I absolutely agree that sleep is very important for all kids. If, as a system, we believe that none of our school levels should start before 8 am, then we may be looking at a transportation levy. We are also taking a hard look at timing for the first bus pick- ups for our students, and keeping our students safe to/from to school and bus stops is a top priority. Thanks for your feedback.

      • LC

        3 years ago

        I never said that no schools should start before 8. I don’t believe that our most dependent and youngest should be the early starters.

        We don’t need another levy Mr Baker. Our property taxes have almost doubled since we bought our home 6 years ago.

        How about instead of adding more buses, more teachers, more costs, you make the exiting time more efficient. Longer school days do not equal more learning.

        I feel like from viewing your responses on here, it’s obvious you’ve already made up your mind about what you want to do and you’re just trying to make it look like you care about our input. Since the majority of people I’ve talked to, and read here making comments don’t seem to support this, I guess time will tell if my assumption is correct.

        • gbaker

          3 years ago

          Thanks for all your comments. I definitely haven’t “made up my mind,” and I truly enjoy this input and feedback process, even when we disagree. I enjoy transparent processes with vigorous debate, and I believe it will lead us to a better solution in the end. There have been some amazing points and analysis made on this blog over the last week by our parents and staff, and I’m very appreciative. I also realize we’re not going to make every family 100% happy – so I’m careful not to over-promise.

  27. Guest

    3 years ago

    I like the idea of more electives in High School…but are new electives to be added…or just more time to takes the ones available. My son starts high school next year and I was disappointed with the elective available. There seems to be no hands on technical courses like woodworking, metal work, small engines, or electronics. These where all courses that I remember taking in my youth in a different school district.

    I like the idea of a later start time..But was surprise that the elementary was going to have the earliest start time. With a 7:45 am start time that means kids may have to get the bus by 7:15 am, possibly getting up as early as 6:15 am? Then they are out of school that much earlier..many needing after school daycare. That will be a very long day if their parents do not get off work till after 5:00 pm.

    Perhaps instead of bringing in more buses we should be looking at reducing buses. Our school district did not have buses when I was growing up and all the kids managed to get to school. Walking, riding bikes, taking public transport or parent driving. By high school are not a lot of kids driving themselves? We encourages walk able communities and biking to work…how about the same for schools with the added benefit of exercise for our kids.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comments. You raise many great points: first, if this proposal goes into effect, we would be hiring staff to help fill the needs/interests of our students and parents. I’m in the process of meeting with all high school students (I’m about half way through) and surveying them on what classes they’d like to take – thus far, anything from guitar, music, art, STEM to world language are on the top of the (long) list. Early bus riders and before-and after-school care are important factors for us to consider. And while walking, riding bikes, parent rides and public transportation sound like great options, those are not realistic options for some of our students who live miles from school and/or do not have access to sidewalks for walking. Our general policy is to offer bus transportation to kids who live one mile or more from school. Thanks for your help in wrestling with this idea.

  28. JayVee

    3 years ago

    I have always found the start times concerning. It seems that having a middle school start time of 9:15am, getting used to this time and doing it for 3 years then jumping to a 7:45am start in high school would be difficult for anyone. When adding a developing brain to that mix, it becomes preposterous. Whereas my preference would be for middle school start time to be in the middle, regardless of the order (ie: Elem: 7:45a, MS 8:15a, HS 9:00a OR Elem: 9:00a, MS 8:15a, HS 7:45a) to shorten the gap, by far I prefer the new proposal over the current time schedule.
    As always, I truly appreciate being asked for my opinion on the matter.
    Thank you for all the time and effort that you are all putting into this matter.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      We have heard from quite a few families and staff that the transition from the middle school start time to high school can be quite a shock to the system! Thanks for your input, and we really appreciate all the thoughtful comments we’re receiving.

  29. Brian

    3 years ago

    Thanks for opening up a way to let everybody give input… I want to highlight a couple of factors that I believe warrant another schedule option. The new proposed schedule brings up a concern for after-school care. Families would no longer be able to rely on older siblings or high-school baby-sitters to pick up elementary children from school; this would fall to (working) parents and/or after-school programs, which can be expensive.

    A lot of emphasis has been given to a later high-school start. The elimination of zero-hour classes due to an expanded schedule will help our ‘most tired’ students, who are exhausted because they are getting up to take these classes. Also with the expanded scheduled, more students could opt for a late start if they are on track to exceed graduation requirements. For these two reasons, I wish our district would consider the option of switching proposed HS and Elementary times: HS:7:45-2:45 and Elementary:8:15-2:45 With this, working parents could still drop their children off before work (7:45 or later), and there would be less impact on our many high school after school/evening programs.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      As you have identified, there are potential pros and cons with every scenario! Before and after-school care is a concern that has come up a lot – and it’s a big concern with our current schedule, as well. We are trying hard to have our schools offer robust programs before and after school to help parents whose work days are beyond 6.5 hours – and most parents fall into this category. Eliminating zero hour is an important part of this plan, and getting high school students on a flexible schedule is key, too. The option you share has some real positives, but having HS and ES both end at 2:45 doesn’t work without buying a large number of new buses. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  30. Guest

    3 years ago

    What is the expense difference between adding more buses and implementing this new extended day plan?

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Each bus would cost the district about $125,000. Depending on the scenario, we would need somewhere between 22-41 more buses to have all three levels – elementary, middle and high – all start at/after 8 am and end before 4 pm.

  31. Renee

    3 years ago

    Our family is extremely opposed to the the proposed elementary school start time of 7:45 am. This start time is too early, and we will be forced to consider other schooling options. During the winter months, it is still quite dark at 7:45 am, and it unsafe for elementary school children to be walking to school. It is suggested that perhaps older siblings might be of assistance in getting these younger children ready in the mornings, as well as escorting them to school, but that would seem to contradict the objective of allowing teens to get the extra rest they need in the mornings.

    Furthermore, an earlier elementary school start time will mean an earlier bedtime and less time in the evening for families to spend time together. This time is already limited for many families, as homework already consumes a significant amount of time in the evenings, even at the elementary level.

    The proposed 7:45 am start time will also increase the financial burden on many families who will be forced to find childcare for elementary school aged children in the afternoons (it isn’t like their older siblings will be able to help out under the proposed schedule). In contrast, older students would benefit from getting out of class earlier, so that they can participate in after school sports, hobbies, and have the time to work if they so choose.

    This plan is extremely detrimental to younger children, and I hope you will seriously reconsider the school start and end times to take into consideration the safety and learning needs of the elementary school students.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comments. It’s certainly not an easy proposal to wrestle with and you make great points. As you can see from this blog, there are so many differing circumstances and variables between our families and staff. But we certainly are not intending to put our youngest students in an unsafe environment, nor do we want to limit family time. We appreciate the feedback.

  32. Guest

    3 years ago

    I will have two high school students by the time this is implemented, but at this time looking at all the information I cannot support: 1) starting elementary kids so early, which is too high a price to pay; 2) in the high schoolers’ day there won’t be enough time for sports afterwards and other activities; 3) Dinner times for high schoolers doing sports will become too late. I’ve seen all the responses explaining the reasons to reject my concerns, but I remain unconvinced that this will be an overall benefit to everyone. Middle school kids could have more instructional time by eliminating Compass classes, which every student I’ve talked to finds to be a waste of time. Please consider making the current schedules more efficient first.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for both of your comments. Extending the middle and high school day comes directly out of the work of two committees: middle school scheduling and high school scheduling. Both groups recommended we extend the day to increase offerings to students. State graduation requirements have also gone up to 24 credits. A 6-period day leaves very little wiggle room for a struggling student, and it would give nice flexibility to others (a student could start their senior year with 21 credits under their belt and use their extra time to get out early, come later, work, etc). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on COMPASS and homeroom (Anchor, Thor, etc).
      And while I may not be able to convince you that this proposal is the way to go (and maybe it’s not – we’re not sure yet), here are a couple counter-points. 1) if we’re going to try to get any of our children to bed earlier, elementary kids would be much easier than high school students. And many families are saying that the earlier start times work better for their children’s sleep patterns and/or the parents’ work schedules. More proof there isn’t a “one-schedule fits all.” 2) Our after-school activities and athletics will shift accordingly, and again, flexibility will be an important part of this proposal. Perhaps kids will opt to not take a 7th period class if they’re in good shape to graduate in four years. 3) Again this goes back to flexibility. It’s interesting that both elementary and high school parents are concerned about getting squeezed on dinner/home time in this proposal, but for different reasons. Really appreciate the feedback!

  33. Guest

    3 years ago

    I would also like to comment specifically on the proposal to lengthen the day for students in MS and HS. Instead of lengthening the day, I believe the use of the current could be much more efficient. Is there data to prove that the COMPASS classes in MS are effective and improving student learning? Why can’t they be eliminated if there is a no data and used for increased electives that would be more tailored to students’ needs and passions? In the HS a similar question may be asked about Anchor classes, for example.

  34. LC

    3 years ago

    I’d also like to add that if you want students to develop “a passion” then you should start young. Offer more electives and opportunities to elementary students so they can experiment and find a passion, and then, by middle school and high school, pursue it even more strongly and independently.

  35. Jessica

    3 years ago

    It’s interesting to see the different perspective of parents regarding Compass. My 6th grader really likes compass because it adds a sense of safety and community. Her middle school has dealt with some bullying issues and she thinks that having one period a day where she mixes with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to focus and work on those non-academic character traits really helps the sense of community at her school. She feels more confident and less intimidated because she knows kids now at all grade levels. Without Compass, the different age groups don’t really get that opportunity to intermingle otherwise. My 6th grader is looking forward to next year where she can step into a mentoring role via Compass for the younger kids coming into middle school. I don’t see Compass as a glorified study hall at all. I see value in it.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks and believe it or not, I find this process invigorating. School schedules are so important (see 20+ comments above and the now 1500 survey responses) to our students, staff and families. But it is hard that we can’t please everyone. Thanks for the counter-point regarding Compass. What one parent sees as inefficient is confidence-builder for another.
      Phew. I may be taking a break from the comments this weekend. I’ll do my best to respond next week. Have a great weekend everyone!

  36. Heidi Bode

    3 years ago

    I am very disappointed with the survey. The way it is worded is completely bias. I hope you will not be using it to justify a decision to have elementary school start at 7:45am.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment and please know the survey is meant to openly gather feedback and not be biased. It has more open-ended questions that allow responders to really tell us what think and what are their priorities/concerns.

  37. Guest

    3 years ago

    My family is in COMPLETE support of this proposal. We will have 2 elementary aged kids by the time this would go into effect, and I can’t think of any reason to deny them extra learning time. This is a potential 630 hours of additional classroom time over their middle and high school years – more than an extra 1/2 of a school year! The sleep studies are also compelling and starting later is a great idea.

    Having elementary start earlier will personally work better with our work schedules and we already have after-school care through the YMCA and grandparents. In addition, Carl Cozier already offers some fantastic after school activities through the PTA that are no- or low-cost.

    A difference of only 45 minutes is WELL worth the benefits of additional learning time and more well-rested teenagers who are ready to learn. Either way, I commend you for thinking outside the box to find ways to improve student learning, and for allowing this input.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  38. Christina Hakes

    3 years ago

    At first I liked the idea of a later start for high school. Then I watched the video. With added costs for buses, a very awkward schedule for elementary students and longer days sitting in school, I don’t think this is all worth an extra half hour. Did anyone consider the increased childcare costs involved with a 2:15 release for elementary? This will cost families. And smaller children will be spending more time in childcare which is hardly enriching no matter where your kid goes. Ludicrous for a half an hour. And more time for electives? Aren’t high schoolers already involved with various programs? Is half an hour more all that beneficial? In addition, the extended time will cut into their sports, family, or job time, if they’re working. The budget for additional buses, I believe, could be better spent.

    Thank you for taking our comments. I really do appreciate having a voice in this matter.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. As you can see from a perusal of the other comments, what works for one family is not great for the next! Some of our elementary students are in childcare as early as 6:30 am (though most start at 7 am) – two hours before school even starts. And some high school students are involved, but not all – and some because they don’t have the opportunity. The extra 30 minutes are not meant to burdensome. Rather, it’s meant to provide a chance to take a STEM class, world language, finance, yoga, ASL, guitar – that course you always wanted to take but couldn’t because you’re already enrolled in art, band, etc.

  39. Guest

    3 years ago

    Why is there a need to adjust the start times from what they are today? It is apparent that the number of buses in service is adequate for the current start times, so there is no operations costs fluctuations if they are kept the same.

    Each and every one of us are given 24 hours each day. If a HS student, or any student for that matter, needs more sleep, they should go to bed earlier. Teaching our kids time management, which includes knowing when to go to bed, is an important skill.

    As Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” He didn’t say, “If you can’t wake up, start later.”

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Ha! Thanks for the comment. A couple big factors are driving this discussion: 24 graduation credits (going into effect for the class of 2019), allowing students more time during the school day for electives (beyond the before school or “zero hour” offerings), increasing flexibility for high school students (to come later or leave early, depending on their needs/interests) and helping our teens get more sleep.

      • Guest

        3 years ago

        With all due respect, wouldn’t it be much easier just to get rid of the second Friday no school and the Thursday early release? I’m sure the teacher would not like the idea, but if you are actually focusing on the kids, I think it’s an idea to consider at least.

        • MArc

          3 years ago

          Teachers in general do not like the early release days so don’t put it on them.

  40. Elizabeth

    3 years ago

    I’m very concerned about how this affects the elementary schools. I believe that teens need more sleep but our little ones need sleep too. If they are required to start at 7:45 that is forcing many to wake up before 7:00am. Not to mention walking to school in the dark for many months. I do not agree with the proposed start time. It is simply too early to start school. What about adding more buses?

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      We can add more buses – but that comes at a cost. And if we decided to do that, we would most likely need to run a transportation levy next year.

      • Guest

        3 years ago

        I’d rather pay higher taxes to buy buses than have to get my son, who will be a kindergartener the year this proposal would take effect, up for school at 6am. He’s already going to be in afternoon childcare until 5:30 every day, and bedtime at our house is already 7:30 for a much later start to his day now.

  41. Guest

    3 years ago

    While there is no pleasing everyone, it seems like this proposal hits heavily our youngest learners who need the most sleep. While research does show teenagers biology precludes a need for a kater rise time, I don’t think there is any research showing the opposite- that young chikdren’s biology precludes them to an earlier rising time. (In my petsonal family, it is quite the opposite, actually.) I do agree it may be easier to ask elementary kids to go to bed an hour than high schoolers because parents have more definitive sway with young children’s bedtimes, but there is also the consideration that even given a later start time high schoolers may not get additional sleep because their afternoons and evening work, homework, sports, etc will push their bedtime back later anyway to accommodate for the time shift from the morning. Perhaps we should elmininate zero hour and force the restructuring of those options like sports and clubs to later after school hours instead of before school. I think having such vastly different schedules makes this a rough scenario for individual families who have kids at the various levels. Older sibs will now be unavailable to help watch/transport the youngest when they get out of school, causing much more need for paid childcare. Has the district surveyed local daycare or before/after school carebproividers for morning versus afternoon attendance? While I do agree there are kids who come to the YMCA early in the morning, anecdotally from what I have seen, there at MORE kids attending after school care than before school care. I would be interested to see survey results from care providers (I.e. how many children do you serve in your before school programs and how many do you serve in your after school programs?). I would also be interested in seeing survey responses from parents regarding the increased need in after school care this proposal would create for their families. Dr. Baker, I appreciate many of the positive changes you have made to this school system. Reducing fees and financial burden for families regarding school supplies is one of those such changes. Costing families additional thousands of dollars in childcare costs, however, will cancel out many times over the positive reduction of financial burden you accomplished with the school supply initiatives. I realize that some of the scheduling mess in our district was inherited to you from our previous superintendent, as changes were made to start/end times just before your arrival in our district. However, I think it is too much to force another big shift in start and end times in so few short years between the last shift. I would rather keep the current start tines, push high school time end time an additional half hour longer as this seems like the most urgent need with the 24 credit graduation requirement. Eliminate zero hour due to tge extra half hour at the end. Leave middle school as is as the push for more time at that level is more of a “want” rather than a “need.” Additionally, pushing the elementary schedule to start at 7:45 means that early release Thursdays will end at 12:30? This is another huge childcare problem for families. So many changes to school structure are making it hard for working parents to be employable and be able to “afford” public school. (If the before school bussing between elementary and high can function on a half hour, can the after school bussing between those two levels do the same?) Eliminating zero hour will get many high schoolers more sleep.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree that eliminating zero hour is very important. And I agree that more conversation with our community partners would be helpful. We plan to meet with them in the coming weeks as we discuss next steps and present the “2.0” version of this proposal.

  42. Chantel

    3 years ago

    Instead of extend the school day by 1/2 hour, has any thought been given to extending the school year to more of a year round schedule? Pretty sure there are very few Bellingham SD students who need to follow the agrarian tradition of being off for months to help with the farm harvest. Could the school year be extended and summer break cut down a bit since school time is so limited students aren’t finding their passions or able to take any electives?

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. Going to year-round school would be a huge shift for our district, staff and families. I actually get asked about year-round schools quite a bit. The challenge comes when only one district in a region does it – we have many staff who have kids in one district and work in another (or vice versa).

  43. Randall

    3 years ago

    Back to the drawing board.

    As written this proposed schedule change would force our youngest students to arrive at school before sunrise 1/3rd of the school year during the rainiest, stormiest months. On top of this dangerous commute, Elementary families would need to account for an additional hour of after-school child care while sacrificing an hour of family time in the evening to earlier bedtimes. Nowhere in the documentation posted by the High School Schedules Advisory Group (http://bellinghamschools.org/high-school-schedules-advisory-group) is any information regarding the impact of altering Elementary start times. While I appreciate the schools being responsive to the sleep needs of teens, I see no impact statements regarding the effects of these changes on our largest, youngest, most vulnerable public school families. I urge the High School Schedules Advisory Group to reconvene to reconsider how to meet goals for high-schoolers without coming at the costs and increased risk to young students and their families.

    To elaborate, here are some other considerations either not made or not publicized by the advisory group:

    Regarding transportation: Have alternatives to busing such as carpool campaigns, van-pools, and public transit (or, ideally, a mix of these to suit individuals) been considered in lieu of the all-or-nothing approach of a bus levy? Was an extension of the 1 mile walking perimeter considered and at what impact?

    Regarding start times for high-schoolers: Were optional morning courses considered for those who prefer earlier start times, how about online courses that high-schoolers could complete on their own time (perhaps late evening when the study you site demonstrates they are awake and vibrant anyway) as an alternative to mandating all students be on campus by a certain time? Has the impact on the shift by 1hr in 2011 to Elementary start times been considered?

    Regarding credits: Were credit for completing private courses, self-designed learning plans, or specialized off-hours classes considered?

    Finally, here are a few questions I wonder about based on the brochure.
    – Students waiting outside schools is brought up as a problem, but also noted are YMCA programs beginning as early as 6:30am, doesn’t the care program already resolve early drop off?
    – While morning childcare may be reduced, afternoon childcare will have an equal increase. So, why bring it up?
    -With 40 staff being added at a price tag of “at least $4million” that’s $100,000 per staff member. Can that number be unpacked to expose where those funds are going?
    – It is noted that the State mandates schools provide transportation only to special needs students. What percentage of students currently use the bus?

    I hope a more system-wide perspective is considered by the district than is currently proposed. Thank you for your time.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your thoughtful response – a lot of great questions and thinking. The high school schedule group talked about high school; the middle school school group talked about middle school, etc. Those are the levels that we’re hoping to extend. We extended the elementary day in 2011, but we’re trying to build in a little flexibility to possibly extend the elementary day by 15 minutes in the future.

      • Randall

        3 years ago

        Will there be an Elementary Schedule Group to address and influence this proposal and its affects on elementary students and families?

  44. Guest

    3 years ago

    I will have a Kindergartner by the time this proposal goes into effect, if it does. While I agree with the later start time for HS, I don’t agree with the earlier start of 7:45 for Elementary. I think if there needs to be an early start it should be for MS. If sleep is truly the driving factor here, we need to follow the AAP recommendations throughout the age spans. Youngsters up to age 12 require the most sleep, tapering off in the middle school years, then increasing again in the HS years. My vote would be:

    MS: 7:45 start
    ES: 8:30 start
    HS: 9:15 start

    I know this puts HS athletics later but I think that could be adjusted as well.

  45. Guest

    3 years ago

    I DO NOT LIKE this new proposal. This would require me to wake up my 4 children all under the age of 8 by 6 am. saying that they start school at 8am. That is outrageous to ask my children to do that. If they are to get 12 hrs of sleep, which is what is best for them (according to all the studies and their doctor) I would have to put them to bed between 5:30 and 6pm every night, just so these teenagers can sleep an extra 15-30 minutes. WAKE UP PEOPLE, have them go to bed 15 minutes earlier at night. Have parents take responsibility of their children. I never had a problem going to school (7 classes a day), sports, work, and homework, and getting to bed a decent hour. I got high honors my entire high school career, was never late to school, and had to be there by 7:15am. I was awake for class everyday too.
    What I cant believe is that you would want me to wake up my 4,6,8 year old at 5:45-6am (to be at school by 745-830am) just to make a high school sleep 15-30 minutes longer. This is no reasonable. It is hard enough to get them up at 645-7am for a 830 school schedule. These kids are exhausted and tired from waking up that early, learning all day, sports in the afternoon, and to bed by 730. Who is looking after their brain development? Who is making sure its a best fit for their growing brains, and bodies?

  46. Guest

    3 years ago

    I find it interesting, reading one of the responses to an earlier comment, that student input was apparently solicited before the proposal was put out for comment to parents. Im troubled by what that implies for Whose voice carries more weight in these “discussions.”

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      I have been engaging all types of folks, from students to families, to staff. We’ve been talking about elements of this proposal for years, and each conversation helps refine the thinking about how best to serve all our students, given our limitations (including district resources or the fact that not every family has the same childcare situation).

  47. Ryan

    3 years ago

    Quoting from another comment:

    “if we’re going to try to get any of our children to bed earlier, elementary kids would be much easier than high school students. And many families are saying that the earlier start times work better for their children’s sleep patterns and/or the parents’ work schedules. More proof there isn’t a “one-schedule fits all.””

    No, one schedule definitely does not fit all, but a schedule by which I would need to get my elementary school student out to wait for the bus well before 7:00am is sheer insanity. As for my children’s sleep patterns and our work schedules, this just does not fit. As a two-income household with no prospect for becoming independently wealthy in the near future, this puts our kids out of the house before 7:00am, but still not out of after school care until close to 6:00pm because of work schedules. It also will SIGNIFICANTLY increase our after school childcare costs.

    The change in elementary school start time is a bad idea. Period.

    Thank you for considering these comments.

  48. Peter

    3 years ago

    How is it a good idea to have elementary age students sleep 135 hours less a year? By making this schedule change you would be requiring parents to get up earlier, kids to be out in the cold, dark, and wet mornings longer (or more often) and working parents to find and pay for daycare earlier in the afternoon, which effects kids more so than morning daycare. Also, because they would need to go to sleep earlier, you give parents less time to spend with their children at an age when they need it the most.

    As it is, my wife wakes up our elementary child at 7:15AM to catch the bus. Next year we would have two elementary age children. By pushing the start time up, and the need for her to wake them up and get them ready, you would be requiring her to wake two elementary age kids up at near 6AM to catch the bus. You expect elementary age kids to wake up that early and have a productive day? I feel sorry for the teachers already.

    High school students are more self sufficient and require less care both before and after school, thus making it less of a burden on the parents from both a preparation and daycare aspect. This idea won’t increase the amount a high schooler sleeps as they’ll just stay up later because (from experience) they can get up later or because they don’t have enough time to do what they need to do after school.

    Also, you mentioned studies that state that teenage brains benefit from more sleep. There are just as many studies saying that elementary and middle age students need more sleep. Many of the same types of studies that you mention also state that shifting the high school and middle/elementary school schedules just shifts the problem from adolescent to elementary/middle age students. You are creating a new problem that effects more people because it also effects more parents.

    I hope that along with meeting with your “student advisory council” you also met with parents of the elementary and middle school children as you will be effecting them more than you will the sleep patterns of high school kids. This seems like a terrible idea and I’m sure there are better solutions than requiring a 5 year old to wake up at 6AM everyday. Of the 3 ideas supposedly considered, option B is by far the best. The effect of staggered elementary start times would not be nearly as bad as having to make elementary students wake up that much earlier, but even then, I’m sure there are better solutions. In the packet you had a list of high school start times in our area. What about the middle and elementary start time? How would those line up.

    I truly hope you reconsider this terrible idea.

  49. Guest

    3 years ago

    I just missed taking the survey but would like to put my two cents in. I support the change.
    We just moved from Portland and I am so thrilled that my middle schooler has gotten to take part in orchestra at school. However, it has been at the cost of other electives. I would rather he have a language and half-time compass or the longer day as suggested.
    I have a current high school student and one in college. The college student really needed a later start and even took “late start” as an elective which allowed him to sleep in. For years, studies have show that h.s. students need morning sleep.
    The only down side to the plan is the thought of having 90 more hours of seat-time for my student. Hopefully that time will be active

  50. Josh Vail

    3 years ago

    This is completely ridiculous! Who in their right mind would think that it’s okay for 5,6,7,etc year olds to be up by ATLEAST 6:45 to be to school by 7:45 in the morning? …and than think it’s okay for high schoolers to not start until much later! Give me a break! It seems to me that you already have your plans set in motion regardless of what anyone says…what horrible ideas…and its not that complicated really. The times used to work just fine ( e.s. 9:00, m.s. 8:30, h.s. 7:45). If you need to add more time than tack it on at the end of their days. 5 and 6 year olds have no business being up that early in the morning…I don’t even want to be up that early, especially in the middle of winter in the dark! Could there be potential lawsuits with the school district in regards to a child’s endangerment and being up that early and out and about? I sure hope not (yeah right),but if there is, I hope people find the loopholes…not wishing harm to children of course but I can foresee the problems already. And all of this partly so these working parents can drop their kids off by 7:45 and still be to work by 8:00…what a JOKE!!

  51. Guest

    3 years ago

    Dr. Baker,
    I am sure you have noticed there are a number of parents objecting to your proposal. I understand that your intention is good, but it just doesn’t work for many families. You may say we are only starting 45 minutes early, but if you have ever raised a child, you would know that 5 minutes in the morning makes a HUGE difference for parents. In addition, not everybody is fortunate enough to have a spouse who can pick up the kids at 2:15 or pay for after-school programs. In an ideal world, I am sure you can implement you proposal and our kids will benefit from it, but in a real world,I highly doubt it. Having great ideas is one thing, but being able to use them is another.

    In any case, the district should have a face-to-face forum with the parents unless one has been already scheduled. We are not talking about great ideas in an ideal world; we are talking about real people, kids and parents. I appreciate the opportunity to share our thoughts on your blog, but I don’t think the district would have a real sense of issue until there is a public forum. If no public forum has been scheduled, I request one.

  52. J Berry

    3 years ago

    I have concerns about what this would mean for elementary students. A 7:45 start time would mean LESS SLEEP for these young bodies and minds and also mean less time with families and up to 3 hours per day spent in after school childcare. With the introduction of homework starting In Third grade, kids would be forced to spend what little time they do have in the evening simply eating dinner, doing homework and going straight to bed.
    Here is a suggestion:
    If this proposal is about sleep, why not start the High School day at 10am to accommodate lack of busses, offer a zero period for students who want more diversity and give these older students the opportunity to show their ability to utilize things like public transportation and ingenuity to get their transportation needs met.
    Our society prides itself of being “busy” but do we really want to create a generation of kids that are over extended from such an early age? Why not put more priority on quality family time?

  53. Tom F.

    3 years ago

    Dear Dr. Baker:
    I am concerned about the effect of an earlier start for the elementary age children. Although many authorities are recommending a later school start time for high school students, they are certainly NOT calling for an earlier start time for elementary aged students. This is where the proposal falls short.
    The recommeded sleep time for 7-12 year olds is 10-11 hours and 10-12 hours for 3-6 year olds. It is less for high school aged children (8-9 hours). So with this new early elementary start proposal it will be even more difficult to get elementary school age children (who need 1-4 MORE hours of sleep than high school students) their appropriate amount of sleep. It will also impact the ability to have regular family dinners (shown to be a important component of a healthy family) for many families by moving up bedtime 45 minutes (many people do not get done with work until 6 or 630pm). In my opinion, this is not a well thought out proposal. Let’s not try to improve one thing (later start for HS students) by making a more damaging change to the elementary school students.

    Thank you for your time.

  54. Katharine Bothel

    3 years ago

    I was out of town so missed the chance to comment via the survey. Trying to think of what is best for all of the students in B’ham, and trying to look at the facts, I have a hard time justifying the early elementary start. The real-life scenario is that kids either get to bed earlier, there by robbing them of family time, or, you have under-slept elementary kids as they are getting up earlier. We can not under-value evening family time for elementary kids! This is a period in their life when they need that parent interaction. To suggest that kids just get to bed earlier is great in theory, but not realistic. We live in a busy world of working parents and after school activities (that most often take place from 5 pm onwards). So the extra 30 mins of sleep for a high schooler will likely translate into 45 mins less sleep for elementary. Sure, some elementary kids are up early, but most families I speak with have kids that sleep until 7 am. Robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    We are about to experience a MAJOR change in schedule with schools starting in August, instead of after Labor day. We are doing that for the sake of high school students. I get that. But remember that this comes at a loss of true summer time play for the younger kids in our community. I’m disappointed that we would have another major schedule change at the cost of our elementary kids…just for the sake of high school kids. Balance is the key.

    I also don’t understand why we continue to set the school schedules in an illogical order. Most families with multiple kids in Bellingham likely have kids attending congruent schools….meaning they have kids in preschool & elementary, elementary and middle, or middle and high. It’s unlikely you would have a family with an elementary & high school aged kid (I know they exist, just not as likely). Yet we schedule the start times in odd orders. So a family with an elementary & middle school kid would have 1 hour 15 minutes between the start times of their kids. A family with a preschool & elementary kid would likely have over 2 HOURS between start times (most preschools start at 9 am). So this doesn’t help a working family as they would continue to need times of before school care. Ideally, couldn’t we have our start times be ordered as HS, MS, ES?

    Thanks for the opportunity to provide feedback. I’m saddened that this proposed change in schedule ultimately goes back to transportation. Let’s address that, not start times. I understand that costs money, but I’m sure working in conjunction with WTA, a creative solution could be found that provides for the best schedule for all the kids in the community.

  55. Alex Zecha

    3 years ago

    With apologies for the late comment, I would like to add a few points to the discussion.

    1-The flyer sent out didn’t provide sufficient information to accurately determine the relative strengths and weaknesses of the available options. Specifically, what was missing was a worksheet which showed the schedules for schools, bus service, and capital outlays of each option.

    2-The notion of starting elementary school at 7:45 in the morning is decidedly sub-optimal. The benefits that this allows fail to provide sufficient justification for the option to be considered.

    3-Placing elementary school children on a bus with high-schoolers isn’t a concept based in the best interests of the younger kids.

    4-There’s no real indication of any comparative analysis of transportation solutions developed in other jurisdictions. For instance, in Seattle, the district partnered with King County Metro to reduce transportation costs. students at various grade levels take the mass transit to school.
    Although this isn’t the only option available here, I see no sign that any analysis was performed to determine if this was feasible, let alone any consideration of what else has proved beneficial elsewhere. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel without first looking around a bit to see what’s proven helpful in similar circumstances elsewhere.

    Thank you for providing an opportunity to provide input on these matters.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Alex Zecha

  56. HighSchoolFocused

    3 years ago

    So happy to see a significant focus on our high school population! After watching from the sideline for years while elementary school programs take priority (and elementary programs are very important) it is wonderful to see our district office look at how they can most impact high school students!

    With the core 24 requirement looming, the increased seat time and 7 period day is essential. There will be headaches, growing pains, and improvements to be made, but this is what is right for kids.

    The research is undeniable- teenagers need to begin school later than they do currently. Changing their start times is essential. There will be headaches, growing pains, and improvements to be made, but this is what is right for kids.

    Here is my fear: the community discussion/frustration will end up pushing back any decisions. Please allow high school needs to stay at the forefront of this discussion. Next year’s incoming 9th graders have to pass 24 credits in order to receive a diploma and already they will be limited to only 6 classes (7 period day is not happening until 2016-2017 school year). Please do not allow the frustrations of our community to delay what is best for high school students: a later start with more educational options!

    • marc zipfel

      3 years ago

      The 7 period day and the late start times are two separate issues.

      Undeniable? Not sure about that and there is no research that says young kids should start so early, so you are going to hurt one group to possibly help another, and I am not convinced it will make any noticeable difference in outcomes.

      Why are there no other options other than the 7 period day being offered? The Bellingham High principle has other ideas the trimester system, why are there no other ideas being presented or explored, and the argument that colleges do not take the credit is false? There are major capital investments for the 7 period day and space issues at the already overcrowded classrooms.

      Why is there not a strong foreign language program in the elementary and middle schools? One year of real middle school Spanish is ridiculous. Mandarin in elementary does not make sense when there is no ability to continue it beyond 5th grade. Why are these kids not entering high school with a year or two of high school credit in foreign language?

  57. Thomas Crestodina

    3 years ago

    I am a parent of a first grader at Columbia elementary. I would like to voice my strong opposition to the proposed change to the start times for elementary schools in the district.

    This change would push our day earlier which would cause us difficulty with our work schedule. This will have a negative impact on both our income and the time we are able to spend together as a family at breakfast.

    The change would also force us all to choose between that time together and sleep that we all need. Adequate sleep acknowledged as one of the most important factors in healthy child development and in human happiness. It is not always possible to get our son to bed as early as we would like to. With the proposed change, we would also end up getting him up and leaving for school without sleep he needs to learn and grow. That makes no sense to me whatsoever.

    I strongly oppose changing the elementary school start time to 7:45. It is a terrible idea in terms of the health and development of our children and the the happiness of our families. Please do not go forward with the proposed change.

  58. Jaime

    3 years ago

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment. I do believe that the administration does value the input of the families in the district. That said, the 7:45 start time for elementary students is simply way too early! My children go to bed at 8:00 at night and I have to wake them up at 7:30 in order to make it to school sometimes barely on time by 8:30. I can’t imagine trying to get my boys to bed by 7:30 each night. After extra curricular activities, homework and dinner we have such a small amount of family time as it is. Plus, my oldest son will be in middle school, which means he will be idle at home for over an hour by himself with a 9am start time.

    I would rather see middle school and elementary school start times align more with each other. Plus, as a working parent, trying to imagine what to do with my children for three hours after school seems like a big rush in the morning, only to have them with extra idle time in the afternoon waiting for us to get home from work!

  59. Michelle

    3 years ago

    While I actually would be happy with 7:45 (works better for us to drop off before work and since we live down the street, he wouldn’t be waiting at a bustop), but I also see the concerns with buses in the dark for younger ones that early. I wonder since they need 45 min between for the buses if they could do something like middle school at 7:45, elementary at 8:30, and highschool at 9:15. Although I think the data about sleep cycles for adolescents favoring later start times includes middle school aged kids too.

    I wonder if there is a different way to configure the bus schedule. When I was in jr. High, we rode the same bus as the high schoolers and we got dropped off at the jr. High right before high schoolers got dropped off at highschool. If they did something like that perhaps it could shorten the start time gap between middle and high school and have something like 8:15 for elementary, 9 for middle and 9:15 for highschool.

  60. Laura Lunsford

    3 years ago

    I do not at all agree with earlier start times for our little ones who need the extra sleep. You need to delete that idea all together IMO. My daughter barely gets enough sleep as it is and that would mean my entire family up by 5am every day with carpooling and commuting!! That is insane!! Keep the little ones on their current schedule!

  61. Shannon

    3 years ago

    I am not in favor of this proposal. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to take the online survey so I am leaving a comment here.
    I think we need to go back to the drawing board as well for start times, bus schedules AND bus routes. Option A (in the newsletter sent home) requires elementary students to ride the bus with middle and high school students. I think that idea is worth pursuing. One of the reasons my two elementary-aged children do not ride the bus is because of the lack of supervision. Maybe with older students on the bus, the behavior of the younger students would improve.
    I have not seen a proposal with high school students starting last – why is that? If they need more sleep, why doesn’t their schedule start last?
    Maybe there is a solution when rearranging bus routes and schedules while including all ages – using the One Schoolhouse approach to solve the disjointed schedules and bus routes.

  62. Guest

    3 years ago

    Dr. Baker,
    I wanted to provide feedback regarding the proposed change of school start times. I am the father of an elementary-aged child. I am not in favor of the changes to earlier start times for elementary schools. Many others have already provided ample reasoning against this potential change. I do not agree with the idea of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” High-school students may benefit from a later start time, but surely elementary school children will be negatively impacted by earlier start times and the resulting loss off sleep. I can understand that there is a need for greater flexibility for middle and high-school students, but I firmly believe that changing the start times as proposed is not the best way. I am concerned that there has not been enough credence given to the impact this change will have on elementary school families. My family already feels the financial and emotional impacts of the necessity for afternoon childcare through the YMCA program and other means. Starting earlier will put an even greater financial burden on mine and many other families.
    In addition to the financial burdens, others have already stated that their children’s doctors, as well as my son’s, indicate that 10 to 12 hours of sleep is optimal. Not only will this earlier start time create a chronic sleep deficit, it will increase the negative emotional impact on our children by creating extremely stressful and rushed morning routines.
    I read the argument for more buses and the need for a levy to pay for them. I do not agree with this proposed resolution because of its financial impacts. How much will this cost each homeowner through taxes? I agree with the proposed alternative of allowing high-school students the option of on-line courses or other methods to meet their academic needs. I am in favor of finding alternative remedies to everyone’s competing needs.
    An idea that keeps coming to mind is that, in general, our kids are over-taxed with the ever increasing academic demands of our society. Is it possible that they are staying up too late because of the academic work-load? Are they lacking in focus? In addition, we as parents may be allowing our children too much access to phones, texting and screen-time, especially later in the evenings, which has been proven to disrupt one’s ability to fall asleep (blue light from screens disrupts sleep). If this usage of technology is distracting them from their studies and depriving them of sleep, this is the real and more solvable problem.

  63. Rachel

    3 years ago

    Hello Dr Baker-

    Thank you for being so open to comments on this proposal. I agree with many of the families who have commented how difficult the early start will be for elementary. For me, as a single working mom the thought of having the kids done so early is very worrying. This would create a serious financial burden on my family due to childcare needs that I cannot imagine how I would pay for. Not to mention the huge disparity between middle and elementary schedules which will be a huge challenge the first year when I will have 1 child in 5 th and 1 in 6th. Obviously one schedule won’t work for everyone but this one seems challenging for most!!

  64. jessica

    3 years ago

    We are a family impacted by elementary and middle school start times. I feel it doesn’t really matter. If our children start earlier, we will have them go to bed earlier. The constant changing of start and stop times is what is affecting us the most. Just pick your times and stick with it. When you change start and stop times, add and subtract days and hours and mess with it every year, that is what affects the community programs, child care and family schedules. Just decide and move on. I feel this is a distraction to the real issues in our district-unequal education depending on the school you go to, class sizes too large and really embarrassing poor nutrition offered for school lunches, snacks and breakfast, and teachers are getting pulled out of the classroom way too much. Even with the Fridays off, my sons 8th grade teacher has to get a subs just so he can grade papers and get grades in. Starting 45 minutes earlier or later is not really a big deal. Decide, feel the consequences and then move on to help get the bigger issues solved. There are going to be equal pros and cons to every time change. I just ask that you keep the start and finish times and days off the same for more than a year, so we can try it out. I am really tired of this issue. Lets not let it distract our attention to what really makes a great education for our children-LOWER CLASS SIZES, KEEP THE TEACHERS IN THE CLASSROOM AND PLEASE, IF YOU ARE GOING TO OFFER FOOD-LETS MAKE IS SOMEWHAT NUTRITIOUS. Also, why do a large number of students do in-district transfers?

    • Elly Kleinman

      2 years ago

      Starting school at these hours has now been linked not only to widespread sleep deprivation but also to a host of physical, psychological, and educational problems. Meanwhile, no research has shown any benefit to requiring any child, of any age, to start instruction before 8 a.m. (teens would actually be better off after 8:30). -Elly Kleinman

      • gbaker

        2 years ago

        I agree that the research is both compelling and remarkably consistent. That is what leads me to keep this conversation going. Thank you for taking the time to share your comments here.

  65. Guest

    3 years ago

    I just read the email that you are not pursuing any changes right now but going for a waiver instead. I have one thought. Since there is currently a zero period that many HS students cannot make it to. Is there any thought to adding a 7th period that is also optional so HS students can get more credits in? Transportation would not be affected but kids wouldn’t have to start school before 7am to have more course options.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your feedback. Regarding the waiver, we have not yet decided but we are looking into that option. Your idea of a 7th period after the day is a good one. The biggest challenges are the number of students who have other activities after school, thus would not access after school classes, and the lack of transportation home. We have many students who rely on the yellow school bus to get to and from school. But your idea is worth further exploration. Thanks again!

      • Guest

        3 years ago

        Activities are good for kids but I do think school is more important. Thanks for exploring this option.

        If you do explore a waiver would the requirements revert to what they are now?

        • gbaker

          3 years ago

          Thanks for your question. Yes, the waiver would allow us to keep graduation requirements at 23 credits (which is what they are today) for an additional two years. This would mean the class of 2021 (our current sixth graders) would be the first class at need 24 credits to graduate.

  66. Paul Horja

    3 years ago

    Thank you for taking into account the community input on the school start/end times proposal!

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. It’s very important to the district (and me) that we are transparent in our processes when we are able (though I will say not all processes lend themselves to transparency, like negotiations or hiring of personnel), and that when we ask for input, we seriously take it into consideration.

  67. Patti

    3 years ago

    Good morning Dr. Baker-

    First,thank you again for soliciting feedback from parents regarding school start and end times. I’m disappointed in the result, but I appreciate your response to the feedback you received.
    I hope that the district will reconsider this package to at least allow high school students more freedom to elect start and end times. I feel strongly about this, and believe it is in the best interest of kids to allow those who need to start later to have the option. In some districts, if parents elected to have their children do all-day kindergarten, they agreed to provide their own transportation. I think this can be an option for high schoolers as well, especially since there are more options for carpooling or taking public transportation. And I believe the option is still equal opportunity–is it equitable for students who have to work until 10 or 11, or be involved in activities such as theater (which often has rehearsal/performances until 10) to be required to follow lock-step into a system set up for the benefit of the system? It is unfair for these students to have to lose valuable sleep time in order to other extra-curricular after school options (who also need to provide transportation home, by the way.
    As it is for our kids, we are opting for Running Start. The freedom to choose classes and schedule times is a better option than continuing to be forced into an inflexible system.
    I hope our district can rethink this.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that we need a more flexible schedule for our high school students, the challenge though is in the details, particularly when you talk about the need for transportation. We will continue to look at ways to make our high school schedule more flexible, which could allow students to start and/or end their day when it’s convenient or appropriate. Even though we’re not moving forward on the proposal, that doesn’t mean these issues go away or will be ignored. We just aren’t pursuing the “full package” that impacts start and end times at all levels. We will keep you (and all our families and staff) posted. And thanks for thinking of the equity piece of this puzzle – it’s an important one!

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