Rochester School Board changes start times for next school year

(ABC 6 News) – Rochester Public School students will soon be starting school 10 minutes earlier than they did in the 2021-2022 school year.

"My recommendation would be for next year that we move the system earlier by ten minutes a step in that direction to get some of our youngest learners a bit closer to that prime learning time without sacrificing the benefits of some later start times for secondary students," advised Kent Pekel, the Superintendent of Rochester Public Schools.

Currently, the middle and high schools begin at 8:20 a.m. and run until 3 and 3:30 p.m., respectively. Elementary schools run 9:35 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In fall 2022, the middle and high schools will begin at 8:10 and end at 2:50 and 3:20 p.m., respectively. Elementary schools will begin at 9:25 a.m. and end at 3:50 p.m.

The board conducted surveys of students, parents, and staff to gather opinions on the shifts in start times.

Fifty-six percent of elementary students and 54% of staff support the change in start times.

On the other hand, 11% of secondary students and 40% of parents of students opposed the start times, with the secondary students strongly opposing the transition.

When parents were asked to consider if the shift in start time would make their children more alert, 32% said they strongly disagree that their child would be more alert and 28% strongly disagreed. Fourteen percent said that they disagree their children would be more alert, 14% agree and 11% neither agree nor disagree.

When the cost of the proposed start time shift was factored in, the shift in start times was estimated to increase the transportation budget an $324,030. The five new Rochester Public Schools routes and the potential additional costs of transporting children had already caused an estimated $453,642 increase in the budget.

In May, Austin Public Schools unanimously approved revised start times for the 2022-2023 school year.