School Start Times logo and girl writing on a white board at Broomfield High School.


This Fall, most Boulder Valley School District high schools will be moving to a later bell schedule. 

While we know this is a big change, we believe our students are resilient and that the overall benefit will outweigh the inconvenience. That being said, we are dedicated to working with students, staff and parents to find solutions to potential issues.



The Decision

After reviewing the latest scientific research that shows the advantage of later start times for students, on Tuesday, January 15, 2019, the Board of Education decided to move back start times at many of our high schools starting next Fall.
 

Beginning in August 2019, BVSD neighborhood high school bell times will be 8:30/8:35 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.

Schools Bell Times
Boulder HS 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Broomfield HS 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Centaurus HS 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Fairview HS 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Monarch HS 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Nederland M/Sr HS 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

 

We are providing schools with the opportunity to choose an 8:30 or 8:35 a.m. start, based on the needs at the building. Additionally, by moving up the end bell, we are providing students with more time to get home or participate in athletics and activities before it gets dark.

We are also proposing, in next school year’s budget, the allocation of additional funds giving impacted high schools more flexibility so that they can meet the needs in their specific school communities. For instance, each building will be looking at providing supervised programs before and after school, so that students can have a warm and safe place to be – as well as additional opportunities for learning and growth.


It is also important to note: the change does not impact BVSD charter schools, because as a charter school they have autonomy to choose their own schedules. Additionally, most of them already have later start times.


The Research

National research from school districts that have made the switch previously has shown that later start times can be very beneficial to students, better matching the biological shift that happens to their circadian rhythms during their teenage years and providing them at least the opportunity for more sleep.

NPR: Sleepless No More In Seattle — Later School Start Time Pays Off For Teens
Psychology Today: The Evidence on Kids, Sleep, and School Start Times
Denver Post: Cherry Creek students get boost from later start times
BVSD: 
Later start times to provide significant benefits to students says research, experts

For this reason, several prominent health organizations have come out in support of later school times, including the Centers for Disease ControlAmerican Academy of Pediatrics and our own Boulder County Public Health.
 

Mitigating the Impacts

While the health benefits are clear, we understand that this change will have a significant impact on everything from academics to extracurricular activities/athletics to the jobs and volunteering opportunities our students have in the community. We are committed to mitigating as many issues as possible. For instance, we are considering modifications that will address traffic concerns for high schools that have campuses in close proximity to other schools. We are also working with schools to discuss ways to ensure that both high school and lower grade students have safe options before and after school, as well providing students with as much flexibility as possible within the new bell schedule to meet their needs and interests.


School Start Times Input Sessions

In February and March, input sessions were held at each of the neighborhood high schools impacted by the proposed changes to gather concerns and ideas from students, parents and staff.

Thank you to everyone who came out and provided feedback. It was helpful to hear from students, parents and staff members about the specific impacts caused by the new bell schedule in each of our high school communities. Our goal was to listen and record the concerns so we could work towards mitigating as many of the issues as possible.

Most parents we spoke to understand the value that a late start will have on high school students – given the change in circadian rhythms that most teenagers experience, which prompts them to wake and fall asleep on a later schedule and requires more sleep than younger kids and adults. 

The majority of the feedback we gathered during the input sessions focused on the impacts of a later end time. So, with that in mind, our team went back to work. We have moved up the high school release times, provided the schools with a little flexibility on their start times and have altered the middle school schedules to help with traffic congestion. The schools will be releasing additional information following Spring Break regarding the specific programming they will offer before and after school, as well as any other efforts they will be making.