School bells to ring 15 minutes later in fall
June 14, 2011
By Laura Geggel
Almost every school in the Issaquah School District will start and end 15 minutes later on Wednesdays this fall because elementary school parents complained about inconsistent start times.
Since 2003, Issaquah’s teachers have used early-release Wednesdays — called Mission Defined Staff Design Days — as time for meetings, lesson planning and professional development. In turn, students start and end school at different times on Wednesdays, compared to the rest of the week.
Most elementary schools start times began either 15 minutes earlier or later every Wednesday, a measure that confused parents and resulted in more tardy students than on other days.
On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, an average of 2 percent of elementary school students were tardy districtwide. On Wednesdays, the average of tardy students increased to 4 percent, Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele said.
District administrators re-examined bus route times so they could make start times more consistent. Originally, elementary schools had different start times on Wednesdays because bus drivers didn’t have enough time to get to their next route.
By bumping back most start times on Wednesdays, elementary schools will have consistent morning starts throughout the week.
Half-day kindergarten times are also changing. This fall, student release times are being rounded up to the nearest five minutes. For example, instead of getting out at 11:03 a.m., students will get out at 11:05 a.m.
“Ideally, it’s cleaner to round to the fives,” Thiele said.
The kindergarten time change will help equalize the hours morning and afternoon students spend in the classroom. Under the old model, afternoon students received about 14 more hours of instruction per year. With the new model, they will only receive one more hour of instruction.
The new school times are in compliance with staff contracts and state requirements.
*This article contains corrected information.