Start/End Time - Proposed Changes
Last year, Jefferson City Public Schools began the process of exploring the idea of changing school start and end times beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. During winter of 2019, district administrators collected feedback during community town halls, student focus groups, public forums, and staff meetings at schools across the district (see full list of meetings here). A summary of this feedback was presented to the Board of Education during the February meeting. View the meeting here (the start & end time discussion begins at 1:47:15).
Ultimately, Superintendent Larry Linthacum presented the district recommendation to have elementary schools start earlier and secondary schools (middle & high schools) start later. We believe this scenario fully meets our district pillars:
- Learning: Research shows that starting secondary schools after 8:30am increases learning in the classroom, decreases tardiness, and increases attendance);
- Stewardship: Creating consistency with our school start times will allow us to tier more bus routes, which will save approximately $500,000 per year); and
- Partnerships: This is why we want to take an additional opportunity to encourage further feedback from YOU, our stakeholders (staff, parent/guardians, students, community members).
JCPS identified three options for new start times beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. These options each included elementary schools going first, high schools following 55 minutes later, and middle schools following 10 minutes after high schools (65 minutes after elementary schools). Keep in mind, schools will always open a minimum of 30 minutes before the start time, and in some cases we may explore the option of opening earlier, as needed. Having the ability to tier bus routes will ensure we do not have elementary students riding the bus with secondary students. It will also shorten the average length of bus routes (for example, the average time for elementary routes is expected to be 25 minutes).
JCPS stake holders were asked to vote for the option they like the best among the three options listed here:
- Elementary (7:40am - 2:40pm)
- High School (8:35am - 3:35pm)
- Middle School (8:45am - 3:45pm)
- Elementary (7:45am - 2:45pm)
- High School (8:40am - 3:40pm)
- Middle School (8:50am - 3:50pm)
- Elementary (7:50am - 2:50pm)
- High School (8:45am - 3:45pm)
- Middle School (8:55am - 3:55pm)
The results of the stakeholder survey were split, with 48% in support of Option A, 38% in support of Option C, and 13% in support of Option B. Although Option A received the most votes in the survey, it was clear from the results that our staff was split along elementary and secondary lines between Options A & C. The Board of Education made the decision, and voted unanimously, to go with Option B as a realistic compromise which splits the difference between the three options. We support the board's vote, and hope that Option B will provide a middle ground that will satisfy more stakeholders and allow us all to be Stronger Together.
The ideas that were explored involved all elementary schools starting at the same time, and all secondary schools starting at the same time, with a one-hour difference between those start times. Current start and times can be found here.
Why the Change?
In addition to allowing JCPS to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, changing the start/end times across the district:
- Allows us to separate elementary and secondary students on buses. Currently, elementary students have to ride with middle and/or high school students on about 10 buses.
- Research shows that older secondary students' learning benefits from a later start time.
- It makes the most sense financially to run all school buses on a "double route." This means a school bus picks up one group of students, takes them to school, and then goes back out to pick up a separate group of students and then take them to their school. A one-hour difference between start times at those schools makes that "double route" possible. A "double route" costs JCPS about $49,000. By comparison, two "single routes" costs JCPS about $88,500.