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Parkway Board to Consider Changes to School Times, Day Length

The proposed changed bump middle school start times back an hour and lengthen elementary school days by 20 minutes.

The Parkway School board is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to change school start and end times and lengthen school days.

The proposed changes bump middle school start times back about an hour. If approved, all Parkway students would be in school for 6 hours and 55 minutes a day.

The proposal comes from a task force of Project Parkway, a multi-year districtwide strategic planning effort that combines a variety of stakeholders. 

Jason Rooks, a senior programmer analyst for the district and a facilitator for the task force, that the group's research specifically focused on middle school students.

"The data showed that for adolescents going through pubescent changes, the start and stop times really made a difference," he said.

He explained that middle school students need more sleep, and that starting after 8 a.m. had a positive impact on their performance. Studies show students who slept more were less likely to be depressed, fatigued and obese.

"We looked at where our middle schools were starting," Rooks said. "And the research was showing that it wasn't the ideal situation for middle school students."

Last fall, Oberlin College Professor Nancy Darling wrote about the issues facing middle school students in Psychology Today.

"Because middle school tends to come with more homework and new extracurricular activities, in addition to the hanging out time that kids need after school, bedtimes tend to be pushed back," Darling wrote. "Combine these time pressures with the tendency for adolescents' internal clocks to favor late night hours and earlier school start times and you have a recipe for disaster. Middle schoolers often live in a state of chronic sleep deprivation."

The proposal initially called for middle schools to begin at 8:30 a.m. and release students for the day at 3:25 p.m. It was scheduled for a school board vote on Feb. 9, but snow days canceled a meeting to finalize the proposal.

Based on community feedback, the proposal was revised. It still pushes back middle school start times by about an hour, to 8:15 a.m. According to a news release from the district, the revised proposal changes the start and end times of 18 of the remaining 23 Parkways schools by 15 minutes or less. Five elementary schools' start and end times could change by between 20 and 50 minutes.

All Parkway school days would get a little longer under the proposal, but middle and high school students aren't likely to notice the additional few minutes. Elementary school students might see a difference of 20 minutes, though, if the proposal if approved. Currently, Parkway's elementary school day is 6 hours and 35 minutes long. The proposed 20 extra minutes adds the equivalent of 10 days of instructional time to elementary school calendars. 

According to data compiled by the district, lengthening the day would give Parkway elementary students some of the longest school days in the area, but only by a few minutes. 

If approved, the changes would take effect in the 2011-2012 school year. The school board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at .

 

Proposed School Start and End Times   7:45 a.m. - 2:40 p.m. 8:15 a.m. - 3:10 p.m. 8:55 a.m. - 3:50 p.m.

Central High

Green Trails Elementary

Mason Ridge Elementary

North High

Central Middle

River Bend Elementary

West High

Northwest Middle

Shenandoah Valley Elementary

South High

West Middle

Bellerive Elementary

Fern Ridge*

South Middle 

Craig Elementary

PACE/REACH

Southwest Middle

McKelvey Elementary

Pierremont Elementary

Ross Elementary

Oak Brook Elementary

Claymont Elementary

Sorrento Springs Elementary 

Henry Elementary

Highcroft Ridge Elementary

Barretts Elementary

Carman Trails Elementary

Hanna Woods Elementary

Wren Hollow Elementary

*Fern Ridge bell times will be delayed approximately 20 minutes due to additional travel time.

Patch reporters and  contributed to this report.

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