April 26, 2018

Start Times To Change Slightly For Most Indianapolis Public Schools In 2018-19

WFYI Public Media

WFYI Public Media

Updated 9 p.m. Thursday, April 26, 2018. Originally published April 24, 2018.

New start times at Indianapolis Public Schools next year will change by more than 10 minutes for 20 percent of schools.

The new start times come after months of sometimes confusing details released to the public about how the district will shift from three tiers of bus routes for all students to two tiers. A combination of issues – including the upcoming “all choice” model for high school students and late buses – are reasons given for the overhaul.

The new two-tier state model is different than previous versions considered. Commissioner Mary Ann Sullivan, who took part in a working group with parents and district staffers, said limiting disruptions for parents was a goal in drafting the final proposal.

Read: School Start Time Proposal

"We don’t have the luxury of having years to sort through this. We need to make some very big decisions very quickly," she said Tuesday. "In the real world, that is how things are and it may not be the ideal situation but it is the best we can do with what we’ve got."

The recommendation keeps high and middle school starts times the same at 7:20 a.m. and shifts the high school end time by 10 minutes earlier at 2:10 p.m. Shortridge High School will start at 9:15 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.

The majority of elementary schools will remain at 9:20 a.m. start times and a 3:55 p.m. final bell. Thirteen schools will have their starts moved more than 10 minutes, including some at nearly 65 minutes later, to meet the new 9:20 a.m. start time.

 Current Tiers Adjusted  Proposed
AM Arrival
 Proposed
AM Start
Proposed
PM End
 HS, MS, Elem 7:20 a.m. – 2:10 p.m.  7 a.m. 7:20 a.m. 2:10 p.m.
 Elem, HS 9:20 a.m. – 3:55 p.m.  9 a.m. 9:20 a.m. 3:55 p.m.

Start times for innovation schools have yet to be decided, said transportation director Manny Mendez.

Last year, IPS Board Commissioners hoped to move start times for high schools to later in the morning. Medical studies that recommend middle and high school start times should be no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports schools start later in the morning for teens to help their physical health and mental health.

But that idea drew little support from students and their parents, who worried about how it would impact after-school activities, jobs, and other responsibilities. 

 "I am just very disappointed that we could not get there,” said Commissioner Kelly Bentley who advocated for a later bell time.

Transportation remains a major expense for the district and the cost continues to rise. Since 2015-16 the expenses increased by 23.3 percent to a projected $47.6 million for 2018-19 school year.

To cover that cost, the district must dip into rainy day funds to cover a $12.9 million shortfall from local property taxes and per-student state funding.

Now, buses run on three tiers to get around 25,000 students to school on time.

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at eweddle@wfyi.org or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.

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