RPS Board approves new start times for 2024-2025 school year

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(ABC 6 News) – It’s been an ongoing topic at previous school board meetings and now, the board said their decision will have a direct impact on the district’s transportation system.

This was something superintendent Kent Pekel wished was approved sooner in time for the 2023-2024 school year, but now parents and students will have time to prepare for the change.

After countless meetings discussing the topic, the school board finally voted yes.

“It’s really important because we’ve been kind of going back and forth on this for the last number years in Rochester,” superintendent Pekel said.

In a school board meeting last month, the board identified a set of start times that will meet the needs of students, families, and staff.

  • Elementary schools: 7:55 AM – 2:15 AM
  • Middle schools: 8:35 AM – 3:15 PM
  • High schools: 8:50 AM – 3:30 PM
  • Phoenix Academy, RAIL, and Right Fit would start school at 8:20 AM and end school at 2:20 PM
  • The morning program of RPS Preschool would start school at 8:15 and end school at 10:45 AM and the afternoon program of RPS Preschool would start school at 12:15 PM and end school at 2:45 PM

This would reduce the length of the school day at the elementary and high school level-but they would still reach state law for minimum number of hours in the classroom.

The new start times would mean a change in the RPS transportation system to make it more cost effective.

“We have a lot of kids who take vans in the city, that’s pretty expensive we need to look at that, and we also have a subset of our elementary schools and one K-8 school that gets transportation across the whole city regardless of where you live,” Pekel said.

That meant long bus routes for students and on some occasions, them transferring from one bus to another.

Superintendent Pekel said he’s not sure what the new transportation system will look like, but the goal is to reduce the number of buses and the length of trips.

He will present options to the school board in December to make transportation more cost effective.

As for the start times, they will go into effect in September of 2024.