Equitable School Day
While our current focus is on how to provide quality education to all BVSD students in a safe environment in our new Coronavirus reality, we are also looking to the future and rethinking school-day schedules to address inequities in our current system.
More Time for Elementary Students Starting in 2021-22
At a work session in May, the Board discussed adjusting school-day schedules to provide a uniform 7-hour day for elementary schools starting in the 2021-22 school year. Currently, throughout the district, the length of the elementary school day varies from 6.5 hours to more than 7. This creates a significant disparity for our students in the amount of learning time and instruction they receive. The difference for students between a 6.5 hour day and a 7-hour day over a school year equates to 85.5 instructional hours or just over 13 days!
Under the proposed plan staff are developing, school start and end times for grades PK-8 will change. Most elementary schools will start at 7:45 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m. Most middle schools and K-8s will shift to 8:35 - 3:35 p.m. High schools will maintain the 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. schedule started in 2019.
There are a few exceptions to these times. Because of the physical configuration of their campuses, Monarch K-8, Southern Hills Middle School, and Nederland Elementary School will not change their schedules. Flatirons and Foothill elementary schools will be at 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to allow for travel from mountain communities. Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies and High Peaks will have separate bell times because they share a campus and most students arrive by car since they are choice schools. Boulder TEC’s bell times will be 8:55 a.m. - 3:20 p.m.
Solving a Long-Standing Issue
This change comes out of discussions the district has been having for years and aligns with our new strategic plan. In 2016 after months of work, 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. This past school year 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 earlier this year of a 22-person district stakeholder team.
One of the significant obstacles for making the change has been planning transportation support 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 routing scenarios that would be nearly cost-neutral. In addition, the district is looking at implementing other measures to keep costs in check, such as asking families to opt-in for school bus service. Watch for more information about this as plans for Reintroduction are finalized.
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 and equitable 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.
Supporting Families Through Changes
The Board and staff realize that family schedules are built around the school-day, and families will need time to make adjustments to changes in bell times. We also know families are still grappling with the demands of work and childcare over the summer months and the unknowns of what school will look like come August. As we plan for the future return to the new normal, BVSD wants to ensure that students receive an equitable learning experience by providing uniform instructional time for all schools. During the upcoming school year, there will be opportunities for families to provide feedback about what support they will need to make the transition to a longer school day for most elementary students and shifting to the new schedule that comes with that.
||About the Equitable School Day and Transportation Efficiency Changes|
There will be opportunities for feedback in 2020-21.
Changes will be made for bell times for grades PK-8, but the high school schedule will stay the same. There will be a 1-hour late start every Wednesday for all schools for professional learning.
Providing equitable instructional time for all students aligns with the strategic plan.
Changes are in store for Transportation services too.