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MSD of Washington Township to vote on new school hours starting 22-23 school year

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 06:00:42-05

INDIANAPOLIS — MSD of Washington Township will vote Wednesday to change their school schedules in a move the district said will have many benefits for students.

The new changes have been under consideration for nearly a year. A school hours task force was formed in April 2021 and several presentations, contracts, meetings and surveys have happened since.

The district said research over the last 30 years shows adolescent students perform better if the school day starts later in the day and they tend to be more alert, focus better and make better decisions if their academic day starts around 8:30 a.m.

Fewer automobile crashes involving teenage drivers also decrease if they are on the road later in the day, according to the district.

Here are the new proposed schedules:

Elementary school: 7:40 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.
The new schedule will mean the elementary schools will lose five minutes of the school day.
Staff will have 25 more minutes of weekly staff collaboration and professional development without increasing the teacher day

High school: 8:30 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.
There will be a loss of 10 instructional minutes per day. This district said this equals one minute per period.
Dedicated time for staff collaboration and professional development will happen 55 minutes twice per week.

Middle school: 9:20 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.
There are no changes to the current schedule.

There are no changes to the current schedule.

Below are some of the main reasons the district said the newly recommended hours align with research.

  • School start times before 8:30 a.m. were considered a key modifiable contributor for insufficient sleep and circadian rhythms (physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle).
  • High schools in districts with a later start time have less depression and less of a need for medication,
  • Attendance improves, tardiness decreases and more students graduate.
  • Economists with Brookings Institute estimate by shifting high and middle school start times will increase academic achievement on average and with effects for disadvantaged students about twice as large as advantaged students. This could also be done with little to no cost to schools. These advantages are equivalent to two additional months of schools.
  • A large-scale study in 2021 found an earlier start time had minimal impact on student sleep and daytime sleepiness for elementary school students. The student also found significant benefits of delaying middle and high school start times.

The seven early release days on the current calendar have been removed from the recommended calendar.

Under the proposed changes, the earliest bus stop time for elementary school students would be 6:45 a.m. for a handful of students and the average pick-up time would be 7 a.m. Currently, the earliest elementary school students are picked up at 7:15 and the average time is 7:40 a.m.

If approved, the new school hours and calendar would start the 2022-2023 school year.