(COLORADO SPRINGS) — New start and end times for schools in Academy District 20 that were proposed at a school board meeting on Jan. 19 have been approved and finalized, according to a press release from the district.

The district said the new start and end times follow a three-tier schedule, which moves from the previously used two-tier schedule. By starting/ending each level at its own time, the district will adhere to and follow best practices regarding adolescent sleep time.

The district said in addition to aiding children’s sleep schedules, the change creates sustainability for their transportation system and maximizes efficiency.

The approved bell times are as follows:

  • Elementary school: 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Middle school 8:50 a.m. – 3:55 p.m. (with the exception of Challenger Middle School)
  • High school 8:10 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.

The exception to Challenger Middle School is due to students in that area sharing bus service with Pine Creek High School. Challenger will have bell times at 8:20 a.m. – 3:25 p.m.

D20 noted that the 40 minutes between start times is the minimum time needed for buses to run routes. 

“We understand this is a significant change and presents a variety of challenges to family schedules, work schedules, and before/after school activities,” said the district in a press release. “We are therefore exploring strategies to help mitigate the impacts of these challenges.”

The district said the proposal came after two years of discussion and research by the School Start/End Times Committee – comprised of students, staff, guardians/parents and health care experts. The committee was charged with reviewing, analyzing, and researching school schedules for elementary, middle, high school. 

The committee heard from health care experts and studied numerous research, all of which suggests there are optimal school start times for specific grade levels and adjusting bell schedules creates multiple benefits for students.

Among other benefits, the district said the National Sleep Foundation found both attendance and graduation rates “significantly improved” in schools that delayed their start times to 8:30 a.m., or later for teen aged students.

The new start and end times will go into effect at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.