CKSD releases survey findings on changing school start times

Final decision expected in January

Back in May, Central Kitsap School District 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 CKSD is considering comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests the start time should be after 8:30 a.m. According to ckschools.org, the latest research shows that adolescent students should be sleeping in later than what the current start time schedule allows.

“That is a central reason for convening this team and examining start and end times across the district,” ckschools.org’s Frequently Asked Questions states. “The latest research shows that adolescents have a difficult time falling asleep before 11 p.m. Our hope is to align our start/end times to better match the latest research.”

The district’s released two surveys since September, with the first survey giving community members five options of start times, including keeping the current schedule. The most recent survey gave two options to consider.

The first option would have 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 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.

“In the first survey that had five options, the majority of people favored some change,” Franklyn MacKenzie said, CKSD executive director of student support. “In the second survey with only two research-based options, the majority of respondents were concerned about these specific schedules. The team will be looking at the results of both surveys to make any recommendation.”

According to ckschools.org, the key elements to be considered through this process include student learning and engagement, student safety, impacts on families, operational efficiencies and transportation, and after school sports and activities.

A powerpoint from the CKSD Board meeting last week showed that Superintendent Erin Prince recommends the board consider research findings on adolescent sleep, experiences from other school districts, benefits to students, implications for families and district operations, and input from stakeholders.

“The board has given the team a charge and the team needs to use stakeholder input as part of their work in determining how any recommendation meets that charge,” MacKenzie said.

Online feedback through a public testimony in November, emails, social media, and an online petition showed that many respondents were clear in their preference for current schedules, according to the powerpoint presentation. The vast majority of the comments were negative, with concerns such as student safety at morning bus stops, sleep for elementary children, childcare costs, impact of after school activities for middle and high school students, and the idea that older students may stay up later.

“Generally the concerns were that elementary (schools) would start too early and put students at their bus stops in the dark,” MacKenzie said about the reaction from community members during last week’s school board meeting. “We heard concerns from community members about after school child care for elementary students.”

Secondary school students shared concerns for after school programs, afternoon childcare pickup, and liked the idea of sleep, the powerpoint stated. MacKenzie also said that community members at last week’s school board meeting had concerns over late secondary school starting times putting a burden on students who participate in after school activities or take care of younger siblings after school.

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.

Comments ranged from elementary students needing more sleep, liking the idea of getting out earlier for family time; concern for after school sports, activities and care; safety issues for early bus pickup for elementary students in the dark and busy roads; and the idea that homework could keep kids up later. Many respondents also made a choice but didn’t like either option, according to the powerpoint presentation.

The next step will be for the team to provide a final recommendation on changing school start times to the superintendent in January 2020. The earliest CKSD could see change to their start times would be for the 2020-21 school year.

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