I’m very excited and proud that today we have released details of our plans for start and end times in 2017-18.
I realize change can bring some challenges – for our families, students, staff and community. But I believe making a change to benefit student health, academic success, stress, mood, attendance, etc. (the list goes on) is change worth making.
If you are completely new to this conversation and wondering “what, when, where, why?” we have some resources, which I think may be helpful. Here is a webpage we’ve developed to help explain our process, who has given feedback and the basis for our decision to shift start times at high school to allow our teenage students to get more sleep.
Bellingham Public Schools is not alone in this effort. Districts across the state and country are shifting start times later at the high school level after the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a recommendation that encourages districts to delay middle and high school start times to 8:30 a.m. or later. We interviewed students, as well as local doctors for our video to explain our rationale for these changes.
We’ve been reminded during this engagement process that a “perfect” schedule that works for every family, student and staff’s needs does not exist. Parents work different hours, students have various commitments after school, etc. There are also a lot of transportation complexities that come with changing bell times. We are a district made up of 22 schools across a large district; starting and ending school at the same time is just not realistic when we have an aging bus fleet and a very difficult time hiring bus drivers. To make this shift and keep our level of service the same (from transportation to school programs), we are considering running a transportation levy. If you are interested in being part of our exploratory process, you can find more information here.
What resonates with you? Do you have any wonders about this plan I can help address?