The Rochester School Board will be presented this evening with a report that could lead to an adjustment in school start times to better accommodate the sleep needs of older students.
In February of 2019, a Bell Time Study Committee was formed that was comprised of fifteen (15) staff members representing transportation, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, Student Nutrition Services (SNS), School Aged Child Care (SACC), Activity Directors, and District administration. The goal of the committee was to look at options that best served the students based on established research all while looking at cost models that did not substantially increase transportation costs. The committee met seven times over nine months. The initial committee meeting was on February 28, 2019, and various representatives were tasked with reviewing research, gathering information from their peers, and evaluating start times of other districts. We looked at start time schedules at four Minnesota districts of comparable size and the committee decided to create options with start times no earlier than 8:00 AM at any site and a dismissal time of no later than 3:15 PM at secondary sites.
We established the bell times in consideration of the following:
- Research of various medical, psychological, and psychiatric associations,
- Transportations requiring one hour between secondary and elementary arrival times in order to maintain a two tiered approach
- Effect of later dismissal time at secondary sites for after school activities
- Consideration of the bus pick up and drop times along with the walk times needing to be in daylight hours if possible
- SACC staffing considerations related to school start and dismissal times
- Effect on Student Nutritional Services for meal times and compliance with federal laws
- Lunch start times at elementary and lunch period times at secondary sites
- Effect on PSEO, C-TECH, and Early Childhood Learning Centers
- Contracted staff teaching hours
The Bell Time Study Committee used the above considerations to create various options to present to the School Board for their review and comment. The committee created two potential bell time options, which will be presented to the school board this evening. Stay tuned for the latest updates after tonight's meeting.