Boulder Valley School District

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Robbyn Fernandez

Assistant Superintendent, East

Rob Price

Assistant Superintendent, Operations

Moving to the Equal School Day

 

 

We want to thank everyone who provided feedback during our public comment period.

The feedback we received help us modify the plan to be responsive to families' needs while  creating a schedule that still provides:

  • Equal instructional time for all students at each level  and

  • Time for our educators to collaborate and continuously improve for the benefit of our students.

On April 20, the Board of Education discussed the revised plan and directed staff to move forward. 

Equal School Day Work Session | April 20, 2021 (pdf/video/en español)

Equal Time for Elementary Students Starting in 2021-22

Starting in August 2021, BVSD will move to a new daily schedule that will move all elementary schools to a 7-hour school day four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) with the same start and end times. On Wednesdays, there would be a district-wide, 1-hour late start for all schools for professional learning time for teachers. The district will provide student supervision for elementary and PK-8 schools during this time. Start and end times for middle and high schools also will shift slightly to accommodate the new schedule. 

Since February, staff have reviewed the feedback we received from our community through our online forum, emails, and panel discussions. In this feedback, we heard a few consistent themes, including the challenges that the earlier start time, the middle-of-the-week late start, and the two professional development days scheduled on Wednesdays in October and February pose to our families.

There is no doubt that our student and family needs and schedules are diverse, and that no schedule will work perfectly for everyone. Every possible solution comes with tradeoffs. As we have worked through the feedback, however, we have tried to adjust the plan in ways that respond to what we heard while still meeting our objectives with the new schedule. 

The revised Equal School Day plan

Thanks to your feedback, the following changes have  been made to our Equal School Day plan: 

  • Move full-day professional development days from Wednesday to a Monday or Friday
    The 2021-2022 school year calendar includes two full professional development days on Wednesdays to correspond with the Equal School Day Wednesday late start days. We heard from families that a full day off in the middle of the week is especially problematic. Changes to the calendar must be approved by the board. Staff are developing a proposal to move the two full-day professional development days to either Monday or Friday so they are adjacent to the weekend. 
     

  • Adjust the bell schedule back 5 minutes for all schools
    We heard from families, especially those with young children, that starting the day at 7:45 a.m. would be challenging and stressful. We also heard from families and principals, that even 5 more minutes in the morning would be helpful.
     

  • Allow elementary schools to employ a soft start at the beginning of the school day
    We also heard from families and principals that beginning the day with a soft start that allows students to arrive within a 10-minute window without being considered tardy has worked well this year. This is a practice that was started this year as part of COVID protocols to avoid the bottleneck that happens when the bell rings. Some principals, in consultation with district leadership, may decide to continue or initiate this practice moving forward.  
     

  • Provide student supervision that is free to families for elementary and PK-8 schools during late start on Wednesdays
    In response to feedback we heard, in order to create a more consistent schedule for elementary families,  the district will provide supervision for students at elementary and PK-8 schools at no cost to families. Buses will still run on the late start schedule on these days. Details related to the supervision are still being developed. Watch for more information in the coming weeks. 

Equal School Day Schedule (Revised)

monday, tuesday, thursday, friday

Elementary 7:50 a.m. - 2:50 p.m. 
Middle and PK-8 
8:45 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.
High 8:35 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. 

wednesday late start

Elementary 8:50 a.m. - 2:50 p.m. 
Middle  and PK-8 
9:45 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.
High  9:35 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. 

There are a few exceptions to these times

Several schools vary from the baseline because of their location and/or proximity to other schools.

  • Broomfield Heights Middle School: 8:50 a.m. - 3:50 p.m.
  • Casey Middle School: 8:40 a.m. - 3:40 p.m.
  • Monarch PK-8:  8:05 a.m. - 3:05 p.m. 
  • Southern Hills Middle School: 8:20 a.m. - 3:20 p.m. 
  • Gold Hill, Jamestown, and Nederland Elementary School start times will not change. 
  • Flatirons and Foothill elementary schools will be at 8:20 a.m. to 3:20 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 8:05 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.  High Peaks will be 7:50 a.m to 2:50 p.m. 
  • Boulder TEC’s PM bell time will be 3:25 p.m.
  • Charter Schools: Check with your school for their schedule.

Next Steps

School principals will follow up directly with families about what changes will look like at each school. Meanwhile, the BVSD Transportation Department is developing routes to support the new schedule and anticipate this information to be finalized in August. In general, the new bus pick up and drop off times will correlate with the new school bell schedules — for example, if the school start time has moved by 10 minutes, the bus stop pick up time will move by about the same amount. To assist with developing routes, families will be asked to register for bus service again this school year. Watch for more information about registering later this spring.

 

Background: Why Are We Making This Change?

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 at each level 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. 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. Bus drivers need 45 minutes after dropping off elementary students to pick up secondary students and deliver them to schools. 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.

 

Resources

Board Work Session (pdf/video) | Apr. 20, 2021


Frequently Asked Questions


Board Meeting Presentation (pdf/video/en Espanol) | Jan. 26, 2021


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 


What Is Professional Learning Time?


Board Discusses the Equal School Day (video/presentation) | May 2020