Superintendent George Arlotto's Proposal to Shift School Start and Dismissal Times in the 2017-2018 School Year
Superintendent George Arlotto’s proposed Start & Dismissal Times Model is designed to align with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ and the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation for high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to offer adolescents their needed 8 to 9 hours of nightly sleep. Moreover, it recognizes the desire to have our most vulnerable students, our elementary school children, travel to and from school during daylight hours. Finally, it allows Anne Arundel County Public Schools to move high school start times later than the current 7:17 a.m. start while minimizing the negative effects on families with respect to their student’s engagement in afterschool activities and their need for child care.
High schools begin at 8:30 a.m.; middle schools begin no earlier than 9:30 a.m.; and elementary schools begin between 7:50 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.
With this option, high school begins 73 minutes later than current start times, middle school begins the latest, starting 35 to 95 minutes later, and the elementary school start time window will open between 7:50 and 9:15 am. Some elementary schools within each cluster may have significantly different start times, as determined by bus scheduling. The Transportation Office will be using the newly acquired transportation software to map and analyze potential bus routes during the 2016-2017 school year in order to identify and increase efficiencies.
Estimated Annual Cost: $8,147,476
In his December 16, 2015, budget address, Dr. Arlotto reiterated his strong belief that funding for any change in school start and dismissal times must be in addition to that needed for other budgetary requests, most notably compensation increases and additional positions to keep pace with rising enrollments and begin to address class size issues.
“If we as a county are truly serious about moving forward as a school system and about adjusting school hours, we must commit to providing the funding to do so and not do it at the expense of our people or our programs,” Dr. Arlotto said.
If the County approves funding as outlined above and there is broad community support, Dr. Arlotto said, the changes would go into effect for the 2017-1018 school year.
Securing funding in Fiscal Year 2017 (in addition to the $602,000 approved by the County Council in FY2016) would mean AACPS and its bus contractors would have sufficient time to order and receive the additional buses and train additional drivers needed to shift start and dismissal times. It also means that schools would have to shift hours only once, as opposed to as many as three times under a multi-year plan.
Estimated Breakdown of Cost:
This option will require approximately 124 additional buses. Significant adjustments to transportation schedules would be needed because buses often run multiple routes and serve schools at different grade levels. Because this option would change the tiered structures of elementary, middle, and high schools, the necessary route changes would be substantial.
This option will require 7 additional employees to help manage the additional buses and transportation routes (one transportation specialist, technician and driver trainer handles an average of 65 buses):
- 2 Area Specialists
- 2 Operational Technicians
- 2 Driver/Trainers
- 1 Clerical Staff
Pros & Cons of Proposed Model
Pros for Model
Cons for Model
Health & Safety
- Both high school and middle school adolescents would meet the American Association of Pediatricians (AAP) recommended school start time for adolescents.
- For most elementary schools, the potential scheduling adjustments are minimal as long as the tiers remain in the same order. (Some elementary schools may be significantly impacted, as determined by where their school falls within the tier once start time adjustments are made).
- Elementary and middle schools begin and end at a time that is safe (daylight hours) for walkers.
- Middle school students will be in school during the afternoon hours, time that some adolescents may, if unsupervised, otherwise become engaged in inappropriate activities.
- Alternative and Magnet school students who are currently dropped off during Tier 4 (the last tier) at consolidated bus stops will now be dropped off much later (darkness).
- Potential safety considerations may exist for middle school students and Crossing Guards due to reduced visibility in the fall/winter afternoons (darkness).
After-school Activities & Sports
- High school dismissal time provides adequate time for high school students to participate in after-school sports and extracurricular activities.
- Middle school students may have less time after school for sports, extracurricular activities, and after-school help. Students choosing to stay after may need to walk home in the dark during late fall and winter months.
- High school after-school sports and extracurricular activities may be negatively impacted (late hours and darkness in winter months).
- Community sports and activities organized by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks start times will be delayed.
Before & After School Care
- Most elementary students will retain current before- and after-school care needs.
- Close end times for elementary and high schools allow oldest students to be home to supervise younger siblings if necessary.
- Middle school students may have unsupervised alone time in the morning before leaving for school.
- Some families may need to arrange before school care for their middle school students.
- A significant number of additional buses would need to be acquired.
- This option will require an increased number of buses on the road between 8 and 9 AM, impacting rush hour traffic patterns, thus increasing travel time, the possibility of accidents and potentially increasing the cost of buses.
- Bus drivers are difficult to find and retain currently. More buses are required for Option A and thus more bus drivers are required.