UPDATE: Exploring alternative bell schedules
January 2020 Update
We want to update you on our ongoing work regarding potential adjustments to bell schedules across our district. Thank you to all those who participated in the two community open house events to learn about the development of bell schedule scenarios and provide feedback; and to those who completed the surveys over the last three months. Your feedback continues to inform and drive our leadership team to identify the best possible outcome for the students we serve.
What We Heard
All stakeholders in the Five Star District received two surveys regarding bell schedules and had the opportunity to participate in two open house events.
November 2019 Survey
The goal of the November survey was to identify the values and priorities of our community regarding bell schedules. Some of the key takeaways from that survey were:
- Nearly 12,000 total responses.
- Nearly 74 percent of respondents indicated that our district should consider adjusting the current bell schedules.
- Of the 74 percent in favor of change, 90% of respondents selected: That students get enough sleep to perform well in school as the most important factor to them.
December 2019/January 2020 Survey (also available at the open house events)
The goal of the December survey was to provide everyone in the Five Star community with the opportunity to see and provide feedback on four scenarios of alternative bell schedules. Those who participated were also asked to identify their most preferred scenario for the 2020-21 school year, including the option of keeping the district’s current schedule. Some of the key takeaways from that survey were:
- More than 12,357 total responses.
- About 70% of all respondents favor a change to bell schedules for the 2020-21 school year; roughly 30% favor the current schedule.
- About 63% of high school students favor a change to bell schedules for the 2020-21 school year; roughly 37% favor the current schedule.
- About 66% of staff favor a change to bell schedules for the 2020-21 school year; roughly 34% favor the current schedule.
- About 72% of parents favor a change to bell schedules for the 2020-21 school year; roughly 28% favor the current schedule
- Although the majority of our community favors a change to bell schedules, there was not a consensus on which of the scenarios is most preferred.
For an executive summary of feedback heard, click here.
Decisions Made To-Date
Of the four proposed scenarios, two were cost-neutral solutions and two would require a significant financial investment from our district. As there was not a clearly preferred scenario identified by the majority of our stakeholders, we do not believe it is appropriate for our district to commit to a significant financial investment at this time, thus eliminating Scenario #1 and Scenario #2 from consideration. Of the cost-neutral scenarios (Scenario #3 and Scenario #4), Scenario #3 was the most commonly preferred by all stakeholder groups.
K-8 Note: The current bell schedules at our K-8 schools (Hulstrom, STEM Lab, STEM Launch and Thunder Vista) vary based on unique needs and are not being considered for a change as part of this districtwide process at this time.
Now that the scenarios being considered have been narrowed to only Scenario #3 and our Current Schedule, district leaders are taking the feedback from our engagement process to further consider the implications a change may have on areas such as Before and After School Enrichment (BASE) opportunities, athletics and activities, traffic and educator planning time.
Once this work is completed, we will ask parents, students and staff to provide input regarding Scenario #3 or the Current Schedule as their most preferred solution for the 2020-21 school year. We anticipate this final survey opportunity to occur the week of Feb. 16. Superintendent Chris Gdowski is committed to making a final decision by early March.
Thank you for your support and engagement throughout this school year. This is a project that requires input from all stakeholders as it has wide ranging implications for everyone in our school community.
Adjusting bell schedules is a complex process that will impact every school, staff member and student in our district. In order to implement a solution that best meets the needs of all stakeholders, we must first identify the priorities and values of our community. By conducting districtwide surveys, hosting community information sessions and tasking a Bell Schedule Core Team with developing solutions, we can identify and align the values of our community to the best possible outcomes.
Summer 2019: Establish Bell Schedule Core Team to better understand the sleep research, engage our community in a decision making process and explore potential solutions.
Fall 2019: Seek feedback from students, parents, staff and community members regarding their interest in adjusting the current bell schedule via online surveys and in-person engagement opportunities.
Winter 2019: Present multiple bell schedule scenarios along with estimated costs and alignment to stakeholder feedback and seek feedback on all potential solutions.
Spring 2020: Present stakeholder feedback and recommendations to Adams 12 Five Star Schools Board of Education.
In previous years, our district explored adjusting bell schedules to ensure sufficient instructional minutes were available at the elementary level in the event of multiple ‘snow days’ being called throughout the school year. Through a community-wide survey, students and families indicated a desire to explore more significant adjustments to bell schedules across all levels. Understanding that any changes to the bell schedules would likely require a significant financial investment from our district, it was determined that a more thorough engagement process, additional research and the development of multiple scenarios was needed before proposing any significant changes to the current transportation system.
Purchasing and maintaining additional school busses, hiring difficult-to-fill positions, providing students with equal opportunities to before and after school athletics and activities, mitigating traffic concerns and ensuring appropriate use of district funds, are all considerations that may impact the final decision. Given these various factors, we understand our community may have conflicting interests. However, we are confident in our ability to identify a solution that will align with the highest priorities of our community and meet the academic, social and emotional needs of all students.
Additionally, thanks to the generosity of the Five Star Community, our district is expanding to accommodate the Career and Technical Education (CTE) needs of our community. The opening of a second CTE campus, FutureForward at Washington Square, will require our district to provide participating high school students with transportation to multiple CTE facilities, beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. These added transportation costs, combined with the need to modernize the current bus fleet with updated, more fuel-efficient buses, are also key considerations as we plan to meet the future transportation needs of our students.
Let Them Sleep: AAP Recommends Delaying Start Times of Middle and High Schools to Combat Teen Sleep Deprivation (American Academy of Pediatrics)
School Start Times for Adolescents (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Charter schools within the Five Star District are not subject any potential bell schedule changes. Charter school families are encouraged to contact their specific charter school with any questions regarding the school's bell schedule.