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Parkway school board considers new starting/ending times and longer elementary day

The Parkway Board of Education is considering several key changes for next fall as part of the “Project Parkway” 2011-2016 strategic planning effort. The preliminary recommendations are the first of a series of proposals intended to support Parkway’s new mission, vision and long-range plan. Items currently being considered are outlined below, along with supporting data from task forces that worked this fall under the direction of the school board.

New School Starting and Ending Times:

  • Currently, Parkway middle schools begin at approximately 7:25 a.m., followed by high schools at 8 a.m. and most elementary schools between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.
  • Parents and teachers have consistently expressed concern that a 7:25 a.m. start time is too early, particularly for middle school-aged students;
  • Based on multiple studies and an analysis of sleep patterns in children and adolescents, the task force concluded that a later start time would be beneficial for middle school students in terms of their overall health and opportunity to be successful in school;
  • The proposed solution – when combined with lengthening the elementary day by 20 minutes – would accomplish the following:
    • Enable middle schools to start an hour later without significantly changing most other school starting times. Aside from middle schools, only five schools’ start times will change by more than 10 minutes.
    • Enable all schools to have equal instructional days at 6 hours, 55 minutes.
    • Allow for a more efficient transportation system requiring approximately 8 to 10 fewer buses to transport students to school. This would reduce operational transportation costs from between $200,000 to $400,000 per year.
  • Go to www.parkwayschools.net/news/busTiers.cfm to see the proposed new starting and ending times for all Parkway schools.

Lengthening the elementary school day by 20 minutes:

  • Parkway’s elementary school day is currently 6 hours, 35 minutes long which is 20 minutes shorter than Parkway’s middle and high schools and is the second shortest in St. Louis County;
  • Elementary teachers expressed concern over their ability to effectively teach the curriculum in the current format. An additional 20 minutes of instructional time per day equals roughly 10 days of instruction over the course of the school year;
  • Establishing a standard 6 hour and 55 minute school day would create a more equitable delivery of classroom instruction K-12, and allow for a more efficient busing schedule. See details above.

The school board will make a decision regarding the change to the length of the elementary school day and start/end times at its March 2 meeting. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 7:30 p.m. at Parkway Central Middle School, located at 471 N. Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield 63017.

For more information including copies of all Project Parkway task force reports and recommendations, go to www.parkwayschools.net and click on “Project Parkway.”