Moving to the Equal School Day
Equal Time for Elementary Students Starting in 2021-22
Starting in August 2021, all elementary schools will move to a 7-hour school day four days a week with the same start and end times. Along with this change, there will be a district-wide 1-hour late start on Wednesdays for all schools for professional development.
This change, similar to the move to later high school start times in 2019, comes from the recommendations of the Ideal School Day Task Force and more recently the Transportation Assessment Steering Committee. The Board discussed the work of the steering committee at a work session last May.
In BVSD, the length of the school day for elementary students ranges from six and a half hours to more than seven. Over the course of a school year, that half-hour difference adds up to more than 13 days, and the disparity grows more dramatic over a student's elementary school career.
To give all students an equal dose of instructional time each day, most elementary school schedules will expand, starting earlier and ending later. Middle schools, K-8s, and high schools already have the same length days, but middle and K-8 schools may see slight shifts in start and end times to standardize their schedules and make bus routing more efficient. High school start and end times will remain the same.
Let's Talk Education Broadcast | Jan. 28, 2021
Hablemos sobre la educación | Feb. 4, 2021
Let's Talk Online Forum | Jan. 27 - Feb. 28, 2021
Board Presentation | May 2020
Board Discusses the Equal School Day (May 2020)
monday, tuesday, thursday, friday
|Elementary 7:45 a.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Middle School and K-8 8:40 a.m. - 3:40 p.m.
High School 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. (No change)
wednesday late start
|Elementary 8:45 a.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Middle School and K-8 9:40 a.m. - 3:40 p.m.
High School 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
There are a few exceptions to these times:
- Monarch K-8, Southern Hills Middle School, and Nederland Elementary School will not change their schedules because of the physical configuration of their campuses.
- Jamestown and Gold Hill start times will not change.
- Flatirons and Foothill elementary schools will be at 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. to allow for travel from mountain communities.
- Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies (BCSIS) and High Peaks will have separate bell times because they share a campus and most students arrive by car since they are choice schools. BCSIS will be 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. High Peaks will be 7:45 a.m to 2:45 p.m.
- Boulder TEC’s bell times will be 8:55 a.m. - 3:20 p.m.
The district is setting the start and end times for each school to provide equal instructional hours for all students, but principals and leadership teams will be able to determine how the time between the starting and ending bells is spent while following board policy and state requirements. This means schools have some discretion for deciding how to spend the additional time in their schedules.
Solving a Long-Standing Issue and Reducing Disparity
Providing equal instructional time for all students aligns with the strategic plan.
This change comes out of discussions the district has been having for years and aligns with our new strategic plan. In 2016, the Ideal School Day Task Force made several recommendations to adjust the school day schedule to serve students better, including providing a standard length of day for students at each level. In 2019, BVSD implemented the group’s recommendation to push back high school start times to align with research that says adolescents need to start their school day later.
The current recommendations for the new bell time schedule came from the work of a 22-person district stakeholder team in 2019-20 that included principals from all levels, the Boulder Valley Education Association and district staff. All Together for All Students, the district’s strategic plan, aims to reduce disparities in achievement due to systemic inequities. Creating a uniform length of day for students at each level is one step toward reducing disparities in our system.
Equal Opportunity for Professional Learning Time
The school-day schedule change will include a one-hour late start on Wednesdays for all schools for professional learning time (PLT) for staff. Providing adequate PLT for staff is a critical part of supporting their work as educators and ensuring all staff are able to deliver the same high quality educational experience to all students. This is especially important as we implement new best practices district-wide through the new strategic plan, which aims to reduce disparities in achievement. This time is not staff meeting time. Learn more about the impact of professional development time.
Why do all schools need to be on the same schedule?
The primary driver for the bell time changes, including the late start on Wednesday, is to provide equal instructional time for elementary students and to support staff professional development. Aligning the bell time schedule also helps us create more efficient bus routing schedules. One of the significant obstacles for making this change has been planning transportation and concerns about whether moving most schools to the same bell times would require more buses and drivers and therefore increase costs. Working with two school bus transportation consultants, BVSD staff have developed a two-tier routing scenario (with buses transporting elementary students first then making a second trip for secondary students) that would be nearly cost-neutral. Over the next few months, staff will look for other opportunities to make Transportation services more efficient and reduce costs. This could include measures such as consolidating routes and re-evaluating walk distances to bus stops.
Supporting Our Community Through Change
We realize family schedules are built around the school day and our families and staff will need support transitioning to the new routine. We want to hear from you about this shift and get your suggestions.
Let’s Talk Broadcast, Thursday, Jan. 28, 5 p.m.
On Thursday Jan. 28, BVSD’s Let’s Talk Education broadcast will host a panel to share information and answer questions about the shift to the seven-hour school day. Submit your questions at bit.ly/letstalkbvsd and tune in live at bvsd.org/bv22. Video of the broadcast will be posted on the BV22 YouTube channel.
Provide your feedback/take a survey in the Let’s Talk online engagement forum
Your voice matters. Our Let’s Talk BVSD webpage will host and engagment forum which will go live Jan. 27. We encourage families to provide feedback and take a survey about what additional support might be helpful, such as before and after school child care, enrichment programs or having breakfast available at school.
Board presentation, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 6 p.m.
The Board of Education will hear a presentation on the Equal School Day change on January 26. Tune in to the meeting at 6 p.m. on Comcast Channel 22 or bvsd.org/bv22. Video will be posted on our YouTube channel once processed the following day.
Check back here for on-going information.