2017-2018 Bell Times Decision and Historical Information

School Start and End Times

November 10, 2016: Final Announcement from the Superintendent: 

Dear ISD Community,

After receiving a few hundred emails during this last input period and after many months of community engagement around school start and end times, I am announcing that the Issaquah School District will be changing Bell Times beginning with the 2017-18 school year. As I have previously stated, I believe that starting high schools and middle schools thirty-five minutes later will benefit the health and safety of our students.

Beginning with the start of school next fall, our high schools will start at 8:00 a.m., middle schools at 8:10 a.m. and elementary schools at 9:10 a.m. These times may be slightly adjusted to accommodate transportation needs, but no school will start earlier than 8:00 a.m. or end later than 4:00 p.m.

A strong majority of the emails we received supported the idea of adopting our latest Bell Times proposal. However, I want to acknowledge the following items of concern voiced during this input period:

  • A number of parents and staff feel the Wednesday dismissal time is too late in the day. Our Wednesday schedule is negotiated between the District and the Issaquah Education Association (IEA). I have shared this information with IEA for future discussions.
  • Currently, six of our elementary schools start at 9:15 a.m. and nine start at 8:30 a.m. For those elementary schools that will start later under this change, parents have expressed concern about the impact this later start time will have on their work schedules and child care situations.
  • Some in the community have shared their disappointment that we are not following the first schedule proposal that inverted our elementary and secondary school schedules and started our secondary schools after 8:30 a.m. which is the recommended start time from several of the sleep studies. We also received a handful of emails from individuals that are quite skeptical of the sleep studies in general.

Taking all of this into account, I believe that the new Bell Times strike the right balance for our community and all of our unique geographic and traffic realities. While this change does not fully meet the recommendations of the medical community, starting our secondary schools thirty-five minutes later will be a positive, healthy change for our students. I encourage all of our families to have conversations at home about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep as part of an overall approach to healthy living.

Thank you again for the attention and input into this important decision and for sending us such wonderful children to work and learn with every day.

Ron Thiele
Superintendent
Issaquah School District

October 25, 2016: Letter From the Superintendent:

Following up on the feedback and input received from our parents, staff, students, and community, the Issaquah School District is continuing to consider new school start and end times for the 2017-2018 school year. In a recent message to staff and community, Superintendent Ron Thiele announced that it is his intent to implement the proposal below at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year after a final two-week public comment period. The current proposal incorporates the input received via a series of public meetings held in spring 2016 as well as the Thought Exchange engagement. Please email any comments on the proposal to BellTimes@issaquah.wednet.edu by November 7, 2016.

Dear ISD Community,

For those of you who had children in the ISD last year, you know that we have had ongoing community and staff conversations related to adolescent sleep issues and school start and end times. Having researched and reflected on community and staff input over the past 18 months, I am convinced that implementing the current start and end times proposal that starts our secondary schools later is the right thing to do for the health and safety of our students. 

Before making a final decision, I am opening up a public comment period on thecurrent proposal during the next two weeks. I invite you to email your comments on the proposal to BellTime@issaquah.wednet.edu by November 7, 2016.  If no new or compelling information comes forward from this input period, it is my intent to formally announce that the current proposal will be implemented at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. I anticipate making this announcement prior to the Thanksgiving Day Holiday.

Following is a link to the District’s web page on School Start and End Times or “Bell Times.” This web page includes information on the parameters used to inform the initial and current proposals, a number of research articles, the results of our ThoughtExchange engagement and a special email box to collect input from staff and community members: BellTime@issaquah.wednet.edu.

To provide additional context, I would like to share with you the history of how we arrived at the current proposal. On March 1, 2016 I announced that I would not be implementing the first bell times proposal, which essentially inverted our school schedules, starting secondary schools after elementary schools and dismissing our high schools at 3:55 p.m. At that time, I stated that I was still committed to moving to a school schedule that better aligns with the recommendations from the medical community, while factoring in all of the input from our families, staff, and students, as well as our financial and operational realities.

Later in the spring, I announced a second, more modest proposal for possible implementation during the 2017-2018 school year. This is the current proposal. This plan does not invert our existing schedules and keeps all secondary schools starting before our elementary schools. It pushes the start time out by some 35 minutes from 7:25 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. for high schools with a 2:52 p.m. dismissal, and changes middle schools to an 8:10 a.m. start time and a 2:35 p.m. dismissal. This proposal also moves all of our elementary schools, with the exception of Grand Ridge, to a 9:10 a.m. start and a 3:35 p.m. dismissal.  Due to the need to transport Grand Ridge kindergarteners to other school sites, the District will need to adjust the start/end times by up to fifteen minutes.  We estimate the start time for Grand Ridge Elementary to be about 8:55 a.m. with a dismissal time of about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday times will be similarly adjusted. 

After going public with this second proposal, three community forums were held to inform and discuss the specifics of the plan and gather input from those who attended the meetings. I established a December 1, 2016 deadline to make a decision for the 2017-2018 school year.

In the past several months I have continued to gather input through the Bell Times email account, as well as through conversations with community members and staff. I have also continued to read and learn more about the importance of sleep, and follow the news coming out of surrounding districts that have already implemented later secondary start times. Again, I am convinced that our plan to start our secondary schools later is in the best interest of our students. If you do have comments on the current proposal, please send them to me by November 7, 2016 to BellTime@issaquah.wednet.edu. Thank you for your time and consideration of this email and for your incredible support of our public school system.

Ron Thiele
Superintendent
Issaquah School District  
 

Current School Start and End Times Proposal

Regular Schedule M, T, TH, F

 

 

 Start

 Dismiss

 Elementary School*     

 9:10 am     

 3:35 pm

 High School

 8:00 am

 2:52 pm

 Middle School

 8:10 am

 2:35 pm

 * Grand Ridge time will need to be adjusted earlier to accommodate kindergarten students.

Wednesday Schedule


 

 

 Start

 Dismiss 

Elementary School      

 9:10 am      

 1:25 pm 

High School 

 10:10 am

 3:55 pm

Middle School 

 10:20 am

 3:30 pm

Time necessary between high school and middle school: 10 minutes

Parameters:

Minimum time between high/middle school and elementary school:

Morning:      

                1 hour

Afternoon:      

        40 minutes

Earliest start time:      

 8:00 am

Latest end time: 

 4:00 pm

 

If you have input to share, please contact us at BellTime@issaquah.wednet.edu

Following are informational links

2015 Thought Exchange Results

FAQ Thought Exchange Follow Up Document

American Pediatrics Recommendation on Sleep

Center for Disease Control’s Website

Impact of Later Start Times - Wahlstrom Study University of Minnesota

Afterschool Programs Make a Difference

Estimated Pickup/Dropoff Times New Proposal - Central

Estimated Pickup/Dropoff Times New Propsal - South

Estimated Pickup/Dropoff Times New Proposal - Plateau

 


Historical Information: 2015 

Adjusting School Start and End Times Under Consideration

The Issaquah School District has received numerous requests from parents and community members asking for a later start time for our high school students. In response, the Superintendent directed senior staff to study the issue from an operational and financial standpoint with the following parameters. 

  • School start and end times for all grade levels must occur between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • The tiered bus system, which saves hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, must be kept intact.
  • The change to the high school start time must be significant.
  • The costs associated with changing to later start and end times must be fiscally responsible. 

After careful study by the Chief Financial Officer and the Director of Transportation in conjunction with District administrators, the following proposal has been put forth for consideration. 

First Bell Time Proposal

 







 

Start 

Dismiss 

Elementary 

8:00 am

2:25 pm 

AM Kindergarten (M-F) 

8:00 am 

10:30 am 

PM Kindergarten (MTXF) 

11:10 am 

2:25 pm 

AM Preschool (MTXF) 

8:00 am  

10:31 am 

PM Preschool (MTXF) 

11:54 am 

2:25 pm 

ECEAP (MTXF) 

8:00 am 

11:00 am 

Headstart (MTXF)

10:55 am/11:30 am 

2:25 pm/3:00 pm 

 

 

 

Middle School

9:10 am 

3:35 pm 

High School  

9:00 am 

3:55 pm 

Wednesday Schedule 



 

 

Elementary 

8:00 am 

12:15 pm 

Middle School 

10:25 am 

3:35 pm 

High School 

10:10 am 

3:55 pm  


The District plans to make a decision by mid-March. The change is operational in nature, and therefore the decision of the District, rather than the School Board. The District will reach out to families, staff, and community members with an online forum called Thought Exchange in mid-January to gain feedback on the proposed start and end times. Public meetings will subsequently be held so that the District and the community can dialogue and discuss the pros and cons of changing the bell times.

If you are interested in communicating your thoughts, please send an email to BellTime@issaquah.wednet.edu. We will make certain you receive an invitation to participate in the online Thought Exchange. You may also sign up for the District’s E-News which will include a participation invitation to the Thought Exchange  and information on subsequent public meetings.

For information on the sleep studies and school start times being cited by parents and community members who are requesting this adjustment, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website.

Thought Exchange Results