Exploring alternative bell schedules
Studies regarding insufficient amounts of sleep in adolescents have caused many school districts across the country to consider adjusting bell schedules. The research suggests later start times for students in grades 6-12 would result in healthier adolescent students and increased academic performance over time.
While our district acknowledges this research, our goal is to first understand the perspectives of our parents, students and staff by allowing all stakeholders the opportunity to provide input on this important decision. A short survey was distributed to all stakeholders from Nov. 3, 2019 - Nov. 17, 2019 to inform our district of the community values regarding bell schedules and potential changes. That feedback, along with multiple bell schedule scenarios were presented during two community open house events in December.
Please note: *K-8 schools, Thornton Elementary and Centennial Elementary have unique bell times for various reasons.
Adjusting bell schedules is a complex process that will impact every school, staff member and student in our district. In order to implement a solution that best meets the needs of all stakeholders, we must first identify the priorities and values of our community. By conducting districtwide surveys, hosting community information sessions and tasking a Bell Schedule Core Team with developing solutions, we can identify and align the values of our community to the best possible outcomes.
Summer 2019: Establish Bell Schedule Core Team to better understand the sleep research, engage our community in a decision making process and explore potential solutions.
Fall 2019: Seek feedback from students, parents, staff and community members regarding their interest in adjusting the current bell schedule via online surveys and in-person engagement opportunities.
Winter 2019: Present multiple bell schedule scenarios along with estimated costs and alignment to stakeholder feedback and seek feedback on all potential solutions.
Spring 2020: Present stakeholder feedback and recommendations to Adams 12 Five Star Schools Board of Education.
In previous years, our district explored adjusting bell schedules to ensure sufficient instructional minutes were available at the elementary level in the event of multiple ‘snow days’ being called throughout the school year. Through a community-wide survey, students and families indicated a desire to explore more significant adjustments to bell schedules across all levels. Understanding that any changes to the bell schedules would likely require a significant financial investment from our district, it was determined that a more thorough engagement process, additional research and the development of multiple scenarios was needed before proposing any significant changes to the current transportation system.
Purchasing and maintaining additional school busses, hiring difficult-to-fill positions, providing students with equal opportunities to before and after school athletics and activities, mitigating traffic concerns and ensuring appropriate use of district funds, are all considerations that may impact the final decision. Given these various factors, we understand our community may have conflicting interests. However, we are confident in our ability to identify a solution that will align with the highest priorities of our community and meet the academic, social and emotional needs of all students.
Additionally, thanks to the generosity of the Five Star Community, our district is expanding to accommodate the Career and Technical Education (CTE) needs of our community. The opening of a second CTE campus, FutureForward at Washington Square, will require our district to provide participating high school students with transportation to multiple CTE facilities, beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. These added transportation costs, combined with the need to modernize the current bus fleet with updated, more fuel-efficient buses, are also key considerations as we plan to meet the future transportation needs of our students.
Let Them Sleep: AAP Recommends Delaying Start Times of Middle and High Schools to Combat Teen Sleep Deprivation (American Academy of Pediatrics)
School Start Times for Adolescents (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Charter schools within the Five Star District are not subject any potential bell schedule changes. Charter school families are encouraged to contact their specific charter school with any questions regarding the school's bell schedule.