School Start &

Dismissal†Times

Phase I--Task Force: February 2014-December 2014
Phase II--New Work: January 2015-December 2015
Phase III--Community Involvement: January 2016-February 2016
Phase IV--Board Requested Options: March 2016-Present

Phase I Frequently Asked Questions
Click a question below to reveal the answer.

General Questions

Why is AACPS considering adjusting high school start times?

First and foremost, Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) is responsible for providing our students with a healthy environment in which to learn. Research indicates that adolescents are healthier and more alert when they can get the recommended amount of 8 Ĺ -9 Ĺ hours of sleep. Many health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, cite starting high schools later as a way to help students get more sleep click here for a link to this research.

On February 19, 2014, former Interim Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins announced the formation of a 15-person task force to thoroughly examine school start times within Anne Arundel County Public Schools.



What is the timeline and process for a decision to be made regarding late high school start times?

The Interim Superintendent asked the Task Force to share their findings with the Board of Education in September, 2014. Between February and September, 2014, the Task Force met monthly to discuss research, topics, and impacts related to changing the start of schools in Anne Arundel County. The Task Force presented their findings to the Board in September, 2014.† The AACPS Board of Education will make a decision and determine the timeline for moving forward.



Who took part in the AACPS School Start Time Task force?

The School Start Time Task Force consists of school system personnel, officials from Anne Arundel County Police Department, Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, and appointees from integral groups across the county. For a complete list of members, click here.



How has the Start Time Task Force engaged the community?

The AACPS School Start Time Task Force consists of stakeholders from throughout the county, including representatives from the student, parent and teacher communities. In its Executive Summary, the Task Force has recommended that the Board of Education establish community stakeholder meetings to gather input and concerns.



How do AACPS high school start times compare to other Maryland districts?

There are 24 school districts in Maryland. Across Maryland, high school start times range from 7:17 to 9:00 AM. In some districts, all high schools begin at the same time while others vary across each school within that district. Currently, AACPS schools have the earliest start time in Maryland. Click here to see a list of current school start times across the state.



What options are currently being explored to adjust school start times?

The AACPS School Start Times Task force has agreed upon four start time options. Each of these options offer its own set of benefits (pros) and concerns (cons) and includes different costs. For a complete list of these options, click here.



How were these four options developed?

The AACPS School Start Times Task Force discussed multiple ways to adjust the start times of high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools to allow adolescent students to get more sleep. The Task Force looked to solutions considered throughout the nation, especially those put forth by neighboring Fairfax County, VA, and created its own unique options to address this issue.



Did the 2014 Task Force consider the school start time options presented to the Board of Education in 2005-2006 when conducting their research, developing their options, and preparing their website and executive summary?

No, the 2014 Task Force did not consider the school start time work conducted in 2005-06. Over the past 9 years, there have been many changes within both the schools and communities of Anne Arundel County. While the work conducted in 2005-06 regarding school start times is valuable, the 2014 AACPS Task Force focused on contemporary research and resources to examine this topic with "fresh" eyes to reflect the changes in the community. However, if you are interested in seeing the work conducted in 2005-06, click here.



Will there be any cost involved with adjusting the school start times?

Each of the four options put forth by the Task Force include a different required cost. These costs will vary depending upon the option and some options will require a more significant cost than others. For example, some options may require additional buses, which would increase the AACPS transportation budget. Transportation software, which could potentially decrease costs by up to 10%, was not included in these cost estimates.



How will AACPS fund the cost of changing school start times?

Each of the proposed options have both an initial (year one only) and annual cost. If the Board of Education recommends one of these options, they will determine how to best fund the change through future fiscal year budget projections.



Will elementary school children be walking to and from school in the dark?

Absolutely not. There are no options being discussed that would require elementary school students to walk to and from school in the dark. In fact, one of the Task Force beliefs is that no students should be walking to or from school/bus stops in the dark during the morning or afternoon.



Instead of adjusting school start times, why donít students simply go to bed earlier in order to get more sleep?

This question may seem like common sense, but the answer is actually more complicated. Research shows that adolescents and teens have markedly different biorhythms from young children and adults that dictate sleep patterns including when a person naturally goes to sleep and when they wake up. While some students can fall asleep earlier and wake up earlier, many cannot. For most adolescents, it is very difficult for their bodies to fall asleep before 11:00 PM.



What has the research shown regarding the start time of elementary school students?

While there is a plethora of research and data designed to look at the late start time of high school students, there is inconclusive research and data which considers school start times and its impact on elementary students.



Before and After-School Co-Curricular Clubs and Extra-Curricular Activities and Sports

If school opens later, how will this impact my childís extracurricular schedule?

The Task Force recognizes that students need access to sports and co-curricular activities as part of their well-rounded education. If the Board of Education elects to change the start time for schools across the county, AACPS will adjust its extracurricular and athletics schedule to fit the new start time schedule. Most likely, this change will include clubs and practices that start and end later than currently scheduled. The Task Force looked at a number of school systems nationally which changed their high school start times to investigate the impact these changes had on extracurricular activities. For further details about the task forceís findings, click here.



Will later school start times impact the use of school facilities for recreation use?

Any change to school start times will result in a shift in the availability of school facilities. Overall, after speaking with athletic directors across the country, the Task Force learned that sports and activity schedules will adjust to meet the needs of their students, whatever the school start schedule. In addition, Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks will also adjust their schedules to match our school start schedules.



How will later school start times impact my childís ability to be employed after school?

The Task Force believes that any change in high school Start Times will not significantly impact a childís ability to be employed after school. Students and families together decide whether and how much after school employment is appropriate within the studentís schedule.



What will happen to sports practices? Will my childís athletic schedule be impacted?

Any change to school start times will result in a shift in the availability of school facilities. Overall, after speaking with athletic directors across the country, the Task Force learned that sports and activity schedules will adjust to meet the needs of their students, whatever the school start schedule. In addition, Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks will also adjust their schedules to match our school start schedules. However, starting high schools later will most likely result in practices and competitions that start and end later than currently scheduled.



If high school start times are adjusted to begin later, will it be difficult to find coaches for both school and recreational sports?

In conducting research nationally, the task force found that it was easier to identify coaches as the school start times moved later. Since, in many cases, later HS start times pushed middle school start times earlier, this allowed for many middle school teachers to now be available to coach.



Will a change to school start times impact my childís ability to take courses at the Center of Applied Technology (CAT) South/North or if they desire, the opportunity to commute every other day to participate in JROTC?

Choice is an important part of a studentís education in Anne Arundel County. While adjusting school start times will adjust CAT and JROTC schedules, AACPS will work with stakeholders to ensure that students still have equitable access to these programs. Any proposed changes should not impact a studentís ability to participate in these types of programs.



Before and After-School Child Care

Some of the school start time options will require more after-school care as younger students may be starting and ending school earlier than before. Will additional day care facilities be created to take care of these students or will there be adequate capacity at the existing centers?

In early discussions, child care providers from Anne Arundel County indicated that they would be able to meet the potential increased capacity. Individual families will be responsible for finding accommodations if one of the proposed options requiring more after-school care is chosen to be the new start time schedule. Further discussion with the countyís day care providers will be needed to determine the impact on existing facilities.



If additional Before and After-School Child Care is needed because of a change in school start times, can the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks add centers to schools that do not currently provide care?

Yes, it is possible for the Department of Recreation and Parks to add additional School Age Child Care (SACC) locations. However, this decision is school-based and dependent on space available at the school and the demand for seats in the program.



Transportation

Why do elementary and middle school studentsí start time have to be impacted to modify the high school start times?

Any change to the start time for one grade level (high, middle, and elementary) will impact the start time of other grade levels due to transportation logistics and cost-efficiency. AACPS schedules its transportation routes through a tiered system which, currently transports high school students, middle school students and elementary students in that order. Changing the tier of one group will impact another groupís pick up and drop off.



Will the change in start times impact the districtís transportation/overall budget?

More than likely, a change in high school start times will impact both the AACPS transportation and overall budget. For more information about how transportation costs for each option were determined, click here.



Where does a bus go after it completes its morning runs?

After dropping students off at a high school, each bus transports a new group of students for the middle school and then make additional runs to get new groups of students to one or more elementary schools. To ensure that the buses are used as effectively and efficiently as possible, many buses continue running throughout the school day to transport students to the Centers of Applied Technology, PVA Studio 39, half-day preK, and ECI, and work-based special education programs).



Virtual/Hybrid Course Options

If a student chooses to participate in the hybrid learning option (Option D), when would the online component of their work be completed?

The advantage of a hybrid learning option is that students would have the flexibility to complete their online work whenever it fits into their schedule as long as they meet the completion deadlines.



Under the hybrid learning option, would I need to have internet access available to my child? If so, what if I cannot afford that availability?

To enroll in the hybrid learning option, your child must have internet access, whether it be at home, through the public library, or another location. There may be options for discounted or free internet access through local support agencies.



How would students participating in the hybrid learning option get to school?

Following AACPS transportation guidelines, students who live less than 1.5 miles from their school will walk to and from school. For students who live more than 1.5 miles from their school, morning transportation will be provided through consolidated bus stops located within the neighborhood. These bus stop will be located within walking distance. In the afternoon, all students will ride their regular bus home.



Are you having problems with navigating this website?

When I click on some of the links in this site, they go to a blank page. What is the problem?

If you are having trouble opening links on your computer, you may need to download the most recent version of Adobe Reader. Click here to visit the Adobe website and download the most current version of Adobe Reader.



The website does not seem to be working correctly on my computer. What can I do if I am having trouble with the site?

This is not a problem with AACPS or the website. It is possible that you may be running older version of Internet Explorer that is less compatible with this site. Consider upgrading your browser to the most current version of Internet Explorer.



Questions from the Community

Updated 10/14/14
If the start time of schools were to change, would there also be a change to the time that school ends?

Yes. If the start time of school changes, the end of school would be adjusted by the same amount. For example, if high schools were to start 30 minutes later than current start times, then the end time for high schools would also shift by 30 minutes. Each option presented on this website has a table that shows the proposed start and end times for high, middle, and elementary schools. Click here to visit the Options Overview page where you will be able to select each option to review in detail.



Will any of these start time options change the length of the school day?

No. The four options presented on this website do not change the length of the school day. If a school's start time were to be shifted later or earlier than current start times, the school's end time would also be adjusted so that the length of the school days remains the same. Each option presented on this website has two tables: one that shows the proposed start and end times for high, middle, and elementary schools, and one that shows the current start and end times for our schools. In both tables, the length of the school day remains the same. Click here to visit the Options Overview page where you will be able to select each option to review in detail.




If high schools were to start later, wouldnít high school students just stay up later?

Research indicates that when school districts delay their high school start times, more students are able to get the recommended amount of sleep. Click here for links to the research between later school start times and increased student sleep.

Why donít we start all elementary, middle, and high schools at 8:30?

Currently, AACPS uses a tiered system to organize bus routes so that after buses service the high school, they can move on to service a middle school, and then one or more elementary schools. If all schools were to begin at the same time, AACPS would need enough buses to service all students at all schools simultaneously. This would require significantly more buses than we currently employ and would come at a cost significantly higher than any of the four options provided.

In each of the presented options, delaying the start of school will also delay the schoolís dismissal. Did the Task Force consider shortening the length of the school day so that high school students could get more sleep in the morning without having to stay late in the afternoon?

The Maryland State Department of Education dictates a minimum number of hours to be in school during the school year. During their work, the Task Force calculated that shortening the high school day by 30 minutes would require AACPS to add 11 additional days to the school calendar. The Task Force did not put forth any options that would change the length of the school day.

Within each option, could the school start times be adjusted so that no elementary or middle school start after 9:00AM?

Yes, we can edit an option to make sure that no elementary or middle school starts later than 9am. To accomplish this we must provide additional buses to transport students at a time when all other buses are already being used. These extra buses come at a cost of approximately $60,000/bus. Some small schools in communities where there are many walkers may only have two school buses, but larger rural schools may have 10 or more buses servicing their communities. Based on the schools, it may cost several million extra dollars to ensure that no school starts after 9am in the morning.




Phase II Frequently Asked Questions

Click a question below to reveal the answer.