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New School Start Times for 2017-18 School Year

At its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on May 1, 2017, the Jenks Public Schools Board of Education voted 5-0 to approve new school start times for the 2017-18 school year. The new start times are as follows:

* PLEASE NOTE: Elementary is grades K-4, Pre-K start/end time for 2017-18 is 8:05 am - 2:50 pm at all sites.

Why was the decision made to change start times?
Start times are changing to reduce overcrowding on buses and to save the District a significant amount of money on transportation costs. In order to address these safety concerns, and to move forward with the current two-tier system, Jenks Public Schools would need to purchase an additional 12 buses at a cost of approximately $1.3 million. The District would also need to hire more bus drivers, incurring further expenses for salaries and training. 

The transition to a three-tier start time system reduces the number of buses and drivers required to safely transport students to and from their school sites. The switch to a three-tier system is the most fiscally responsible solution to address student safety, the number one priority for Jenks Public Schools.

Why was this option chosen?
As a District driven by data and research, Jenks Public Schools strives to act in the best interest of its students. The research regarding school start times and the ideal amount of sleep for students clearly demonstrated a need for adolescents to get more sleep, and therefore, start school later in the morning. Teenage students at schools with later start times consistently show improvement in their grades and overall alertness, as well as a reduction in traffic accidents, and fewer cases of depression and anxiety. At the same time, by moving up the start of the school day for elementary and intermediate students, research indicates fewer behavioral problems in the classroom and on the bus.

This option is also favorable because having the intermediate schools stand alone with their own start time will create shorter bus routes and allow for later pick up times from bus stops. Also, this option places adolescent and pre-adolescent students at start times which reflect the best opportunity for greatest academic success, and falls into compliance with federal transportation standards regarding the number of students on buses.

The decision to make these changes certainly carries a variety of implications, and Jenks Public Schools is committed to working with students, parents, teachers, coaches, and all District stakeholders, to identify solutions and navigate this transition.

How did JPS Board members arrive at this decision?
During the fall semester, the JPS Administrative Leadership Team first discussed the issue and made the decision to change to a three-tier system in light of cuts to the District budget, as well as the ongoing challenges with the shortage of bus drivers in the Tulsa area and across the nation. In February, a large task force consisting of approximately 100 people – parents, staff members, and administrators – was formed to evaluate research on school start times and to identify the possible pros and cons of five viable options for JPS start times. Members of the task force represented students in multiple grades, extracurricular activities, before and after care, and all school sites. The task force was asked to complete a rubric based on six variables – student safety, sleep research, student behaviors, extracurricular activities, impact on families, and health and wellness – and was asked to vote on the most favorable and least favorable start time options. The same information discussed by members of the task force was shared with members of the Board of Education in order to better inform their decision. The Board of Education held two meetings to listen and learn about the driving and restraining forces surrounding each start time option. Board members were also presented with hundreds of comments from students, parents, and staff members. All information was carefully considered by the Board of Education members.

Process and Research

A committee of approximately 100 people was formed to discuss school start time research and the implications resulting from the change. The people serving on the committee represent a wide-variety of interests from parents of children at multiple levels to those representing the arts, Community Education, and athletics. This research presented to the committee is available by clicking the links at the bottom of this page.

COMMITTEE MEETING #1 – FEBRUARY 23, 2017
The committee looked at how school start times compare around the state of Oklahoma, and learned specifics on how a change in start times was implemented at Stillwater Public Schools. Research on the importance of adequate sleep for teenagers was presented by Dr. Lisa Cromer, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Tulsa. The committee was then divided into smaller groups to read and discuss a variety of research articles on the subject of student sleep patterns and how changes in start times have impacted other school districts around the country.

COMMITTEE MEETING #2 – MARCH 8, 2017
The committee was presented with five viable options for school start times. Each small group of committee members was assigned one of the five options and tasked with conducting an analysis of that option. Keeping in mind the research presented at the previous meeting, the members identified the driving forces (positive aspects) and restraining forces (possible drawbacks) associated with their option. After listening to the findings of each group, committee members were asked to complete a rubric which ranked each option by how closely it aligned with the research. Finally, before exiting the meeting, each committee member was asked to select a favorite option and a least favorite option.

The same research and topics discussed by committee members will be presented to the Jenks Public Schools Board of Education on Monday, April 3 at the regularly scheduled monthly Board meeting. After Board of Education members have reviewed the findings of the committee, a final decision on Jenks’ school start times is expected to be made in May.

LINKS TO RESEARCH AND ARTICLES

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