In October 2018, a school start time task force of board members, administrators, staff, students and members of the school community was formed. At that time they began the work of gathering research on children’s and adolescents’ sleep habits, brain function and academic needs, as well as examining historical and current-year start and dismissal times at GCSD schools. In the months since, the task force and its subcommittees reviewed and discussed numerous options to move the start time of the high school from 7:30 a.m. to a later time that would be more consistent with the research on adolescent sleep. When the pandemic struck, the high school time moved dramatically later to accommodate social distancing guidelines.
In preparation for the start of a new school year, the task force reconvened to make a recommendation to the board of education for start times in the 2021-2022 school year. Their recommendation was shared with the community as part of the 2021-2022 budget presentation. Through a ThoughtExchange about the budget presentation, community members shared their feedback, questions and concerns about changing start times.
The recommended changes considered the school day environment, transportation, before and after school care needs, and contractual obligations.
2021-22 start and end times for GCSD schools:
Elementary school day: 7:45 – 1:50 (2:45 late bus)
Middle school day: 9:02 – 3:31 (4:05 late bus)
High school day: 8:20 – 2:57 (3:45 late bus)
The new time is a 50-minute change to start later at GHS and a 20-minute change to start later at Farnsworth, as compared to pre-pandemic start times. Farnsworth Middle School students will have the opportunity to enroll in targeted enrichment programs in the morning, before school, to account for the later start time at the middle level.
The proposed start and end times were approved by the board of education at its May 4 meeting. The transportation department is currently developing revised route times to prepare for bringing all students back to campus in September.