Academy School District 20 will host a town hall Tuesday on its proposed school start and end time changes. Parents and community members are invited to share their thoughts with district administration from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Chinook Trail Middle School.
The event is the second in a series of seven planned town halls to educate and collect feedback on the proposed changes, according to the district’s website. Registration is not required, although it is encouraged to ensure there is enough seating for all who wish to attend.
The school district announced in January that it would implement new start and end times beginning next school year before walking back the decision a week later due to community pushback. As of now, the district still plans to implement the changes beginning with the 2024-2025 school year.
Under the recommended schedule modifications, all elementary schools will run 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., middle schools will run 8:50 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. and high schools will run 8:10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Challenger Middle School will be the only exception, running 8:20 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.
District leaders first outlined their reasoning at a Jan. 19 school board meeting, citing more sleep time for students as the primary motivation, and the alleviation of transportation issues as a secondary reason.
The new schedule would decrease bus routes by 10%, freeing up buses for more field trips, activities and athletics that the understaffed transportation department sometimes has to cancel due to lack of drivers, Chief Operating Officer Brett Smith said at the January meeting.
The announcement caught parents by surprise, prompting some to band together in a concerted effort to reverse the decision, which they said would make transporting their children impossible. A petition calling for its reversal amassed more than 2,200 signatures.
District spokesperson Allison Cortez said D-20 acknowledges it did not do a great job of communicating with the community in the time leading up to the announcement. The decision to postpone the changes and host town halls is an effort to inform families on the reasoning behind the change and to better understand how they might be impacted.
“We’re smarter today than we were yesterday,” Cortez said. “It’s making the community feel like this was something done to them and not with them, and now what we’re trying to do is, how do we reach out to those folks and move forward together?”
The next town hall is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 7 at Eagleview Middle School.