Class schedules to change

Veronica Whitney

The change will standardized start times at all elementary, middle and high schools in the Eagle County School District. Currently, schools don’t start and end at the same time.

For most elementary schools, the change means classes will start and end an hour earlier. For most middle schools and high schools, classes will start and end later. The measure aims to save the school district money and to help with teachers’ training schedules, among other things, district officials said.

“An earlier start time will be better for learning opportunities for younger children,” said Edwards Elementary School Principal Cindy Secrist. “What I see is that the younger kids are up earlier and drag as the day goes on.”

Currently, most elementary schools start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:35 p.m. Next year, classes at all district elementary schools will begin at 7:45 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m; all district middle schools and high schools will begin the day later, at 8:15 a.m. and conclude at 3:35 p.m.

In addition to the new bell times, the district’s existing walk-distance policy will be enforced next year. That means transportation will not be provided for those elementary students who live within a mile of their school and for middle- and high-school students up to 1.5 miles away.

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“Many factors were considered in the development of the new bell schedule, and the plan represents the best compromise available considering the needs of K-12 schools and the district’s transportation department,” said Pam Holmes Boyd, spokeswoman for the school district.

Some of the issues addressed by the change include:

– Cost savings – by enforcing the walk distance policy and re-working the transportation schedule, the district stands to save a significant amount of money next year. The new schedule also eliminates double-loop routes.

– Maximizing learning opportunities for younger children.

– Minimizing impacts for high school extra-curricular activities – “Many of our high school students are involved in after-school sports or other activities that require travel time,” Body said. “This schedule attempts to minimize the amount of school they will miss by ending the school day by 3:35 p.m.”

– Teacher Training – the new schedule provides the district with a

opportunity previously lacking to schedule districtwide training. With the new schedule, all elementary teachers and all secondary teachers will begin and end their days in unison.

– “Cluster time” – it is very difficult for middle and high school teachers to schedule cluster time at the end of the day, Boyd said. Because their instructional day will now start at 8:15 a.m., the new schedule provides time in the morning for these important activities. Additionally, elementary teachers will have time at the end of the day to meet in cluster groups because their instructional day will conclude earlier.

“The new schedule also addresses needs of working parents,” Boyd said. “Later start times for elementary age children have caused logistical issues for working parents, necessitating both before- and after-school child care.”

By starting the elementary day sooner, working parents can drop off their children on the way to work, she added.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at

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