CKSD Board will not change school start times

District will continually monitor the idea; looks to balance research with needs of community

At Wednesday night’s Central Kitsap School District board meeting, the board of directors unanimously agreed not to change current start and end times for schools, citing overwhelming community concern for the effects the proposed schedule change could cause.

How we got here

In May of 2019, CKSD formed a team to begin studying and considering changes to the start and end times for all schools, citing research on the adolescent brain that shows students should be starting school at a later time. The particular research the district considered came from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggested start times should be after 8:30 a.m. for adolescent students. According to ckschools.org, the latest research shows that adolescent students should be sleeping in later than what the current start time schedule allows.

CKSD released two surveys at the start of the school year for parents, students, and community members to voice their input. The first survey gave community members five options of start times, including keeping the current schedule. Those options had nine elementary schools starting at 7:50 a.m., three more elementary schools starting at 8:10 a.m., and all of the middle schools and high schools starting between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. The results showed that the majority of people favored some change, according to CKSD Executive Director of Student Support Franklyn MacKenzie.

The second survey option would have seven elementary schools starting at 7:50 a.m., two at 8:10 a.m., and three at 8:30 a.m. All CKSD middle schools and high schools would start between 8:10 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. The results of the second survey showed that the majority of respondents were concerned about the specific schedules that were presented, according to MacKenzie.

3,598 people completed the most recent survey, with the majority from parents or guardians at 62.3 percent. Staff members made up 18.12 percent while students had 15.65 percent. 53.61 percent of respondents preferred option two — which would see seven elementary schools starting at 7:50 a.m., two at 8:10 a.m., and three at 8:30 a.m. along with all CKSD middle schools and high schools starting between 8:10 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. — over option one, which had 46.39 percent in favor.

Concerns from community members included additional stress for working families who rely on high school students to transport and care for younger siblings, high school students getting out later and the impact it could have on after-school sports and activities, and child safety for elementary students heading to bus stops at early morning hours.

Final Decision

MacKenize was present at Wednesday’s board meeting to present the final recommendation on school start and end times to CKSD Superintendent Erin Prince and the school board.

“The recommendation that the committee has is to not make any changes to the current school start and end times at this time,” MacKenzie stated. “Currently, our secondary schools start before elementary and it’s the preference of our community.”

“Thank you to our team. We had what I would say was a very representative team across the district looking at our start and end times. We had great representation along the way. Throughout the process, they put aside their personal desires and looked at the data.”

The leader of the committee expanded on his reasoning for why the recommendation was made.

“When it came down to very specific research-based potential schedules, that’s where we started hearing the impact that this would have on our community. Elementary start times were too early and we know that safety played a big role for folks. Putting kids out at those bus stops early in the morning was certainly an issue for our families. If elementary starts first, then they are out first and there’s not the ability for our older siblings who are still in school to become the daycare providers.”

“Our secondary end times in the schedules that we had were too late for some. With that, we saw the significant impact on after school sports and activities.”

Although the district decided not to make any changes to the current start and end times of schools, Fairview Middle School and Ridgetop Middle School will be considered for later start times in the future, given that they start at 7:25 a.m. CKSD also wants to use Central Kitsap Middle School as a case study to see the benefits and concerns of a later start time. CKMS currently starts school at 8:50 a.m.

Other further considerations that the committee brought forward included the opening of the new Harrison Hospital and several new housing developments that will potentially increase traffic in the Silverdale area. Traffic patterns may affect bus schedules, which could impact future schedule options.

When the recommendation was turned over to Prince, she was fully supportive of the committee’s work, findings, and advice.

“A lot of hours went into exploring this option,” she said. I am so impressed with how respectful, thoughtful, and purposeful the feedback was and the engagement was in this process. Based on the concerns and the overwhelming voice from the community and of our students, the concerns and issues far outweigh the benefits at this time. At this point, I respectfully support the recommendation that the committee has provided me.”

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