After months of research, discussion and public meetings, the Oregon School District has new, coordinated start and end times for all its buildings for next school year.
With little discussion after some public outcry earlier this year, school board members on Monday, March 9, approved two different start times recommended last month by a 20-member work group that had been studying the issue since December. The changes were spurred by the opening of a new school, Forest Edge Elementary, and the additional transportation coordination that will be required.
The middle school and high school will start later than the elementaries and Rome Corners Intermediate, at 8:35 a.m., and end at 3:50 p.m. K-6 students’ days will start at 7:50 a.m. and be seven hours, ending at 2:50 p.m..
Those followed recommendations that older kids’ days be limited to 7 hours and 15 minutes and done before 4 p.m. and that elementary kids start at 7:50 or 7:55 a.m. and be no more than 7 hours.
That means earlier start times for elementary schools by 10-15 minutes, which had been at either 8 a.m. or 8:05 a.m., though ending times will remain about the same. Rome Corners’ days are shortened 20 minutes from 3:10 p.m to 2:50 p.m..
Middle schoolers will start 40 minutes later and end 35 minutes later. That will line up the school’s schedule with OHS, which will start 35 minutes later and end 20 minutes later.
The district’s initial plan had been to change elementary school start times to 7:45 a.m. (from 8 a.m. in Brooklyn and 8:05 a.m. at Prairie View and Netherwood Knoll) to sync up K-6 students’ schedules and better line up timing for bus routes so rural students’ rides are shorter.
Some parents, staff and students opposed earlier start times for younger children, and the longer, later school days for older students, noting that it could conflict with after school jobs. The work group was able to work out a compromise.
Superintendent Brian Busler said the ongoing work over determining new start and end times is an example of a complex process the district and community was able to work together on.
“We will move forward together and we will be set for the opening of the 2020-21 school year,” he wrote in an email to the Observer. “This planning process allowed for participation, feedback and ultimately a recommendation that keeps us moving forward while addressing the challenges we face with school start/end times.”