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Purpose Statement

The school calendar, including professional learning days, teacher workdays, snow days, late starts, start and end times, are guided by state statute, State Board of Education, Colorado Department of Education, Academy District 20 Board of Education Policy and Administrative Policy.  Over the past few years questions have surfaced, warranting further investigation into several aspects of the current Academy District 20 school year calendar, one such topic is the most age-appropriate start times for students, by level. 

Existing research, specific to start and end times for each level of schools, has resulted in school districts across the country making changes to their start and end times, to benefit student engagement and learning. 

The School Start and End Times Task Force is charged with reviewing, analyzing, and researching current start and end times for each level (elementary, middle, high) to determine if changes should be made and to identify all impacts of current and proposed start and end times for each level.  Additionally, changes to start and end times could have efficiencies that would benefit the district and those were included in the work of this task force.

Historical Context

During the spring semester of the 2020-2021 school year, the District Calendar Review Task Force was formed to analyze and make recommendations about three specific areas of focus.  Last spring, The Start and End Times Subcommittee made the following recommendations, specific to school start and end times:

  • To support the recommendations of the PLC and weather groups, the start and end times subcommittee supports the recommendation that an additional 5 minutes be added to the school day for the 2022-2023 SY.  This time will be applied at the end of the school day, for all levels.

  • To make a complete system change to the start and end times at all levels, this group proposes a separate task force to be formed to research, plan, and communicate the change(s), during the 2021-2022 school year.

Current State

Following the subcommittees recommendations, the Assistant Superintendent for Planning and Engagement and the Assistant Superintendent for Learning Services formed a representative group to engage in further discussion and planning about the impact and viability of changing start and end times for all levels (elementary, middle, high).   See the membership for the Start and End Times Committee below:

  • Pamela Abbs, Guest Staff and Parent, Air Academy High School

  • Vanessa Anderson, Parent, Discovery Canyon Campus

  • Valerie Angelo, Student, Pine Creek High School

  • Korina Bierman, Principal, Timberview Middle School

  • Barech Hiba, Student, Pine Creek High School

  • Desiree Bowlby, Staff Member, Liberty High School

  • Benjamin Braun, Student, Air Academy High School

  • Katie Czukas, Parent, Eagleview Middle School

  • David DeFranco, Parent, Rampart High School

  • Melissa Delich, Staff Member, Antelope Trails Elementary School

  • Joey Eisenhut, Director of Transportation, Academy District 20

  • Mary Elsner, Staff Member, Academy District 20

  • Dr. Susan Field, Assistant Superintendent, Academy District 20

  • Laura Furia, Parent, Rampart High School

  • Deya Gonzalez, Parent, Rampart High School

  • Charie Horne, Transportation Router, Academy District 20

  • Richelle Heflin, Parent, Discovery Canyon Campus

  • Heather Henneman, Parent, Discovery Canyon Campus

  • Nick Jacobs, Student, Rampart High School

  • Dawn Klock, Staff Member, Chinook Trail Elementary School

  • Belinda Lujan-Lindsey, Executive Director - Special Education, Academy District 20

  • Adrienne Morey, Principal, Douglas Valley Elementary School

  • Sarah Morton, Staff Member, The da Vinci Academy

  • Dan Olson, Principal, Air Academy High School

  • Andy Parks, Athletic Director, Rampart High School

  • Christina Robinson, Student, Village High School

  • Dr. Jim Smith, Assistant Superintendent, Academy District 20

  • Carolyn Stirling, Parent, Explorer Elementary School

  • Nikki Suazo, Parent, Discovery Canyon Campus

  • Ron Sukle, Athletic Director, Discovery Canyon High School

  • Briana Tillman, Parent, Discovery Canyon Campus

  • Mark Wahlstrom, Principal, Discovery Canyon High School

The Start and End Times Committee met 7 times and added an additional meeting in April to reach consensus for this recommendation.  See the dates and topics below:

  • 11/18 – Introduction of the Charge and Membership

  • 12/9 – Research Discussion

  • 1/6 – Guest Presenter – Dr. Jill Karr, University of Colorado School of Medicine

  • 1/20 – Guest Presenter – Ron Sukle, Athletic Director, DCCHS

  • 2/17 – Guest Presenter, Joey Eisenhut, Director of Transportation

  • 3/17 – Review of Notes and Research

  • 4/7 – Composing A Recommendation

  • 4/28 – Reaching Consensus

The recommendation will include considerations for both efficiencies that would potentially benefit the district, as well as suggested start times bases on the research, expert presenters, and dialogue as a committee. To support the charge, guest speakers were invited to speak to the task force.  They are as follows:

  • Dr. Jill Kaar, Associate Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

  • Dr. Stacey Simon, Associate Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

  • Ron Sukle, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director, Discovery Canyon High School

  • Joey Eisenhut, Director for Transportation, Academy District 20

Dr. Kaar and Dr. Simon shared research on sleep for adolescents and the benefit of starting high school later as it supports adolescent’s sleep patterns. Their recommendation as well as the American Pediatric Association’s recommend that high school students start no earlier than 8:30 am.  The Task Force members all agree that adolescents should start school later but were also concerned with the impact on after school activities and sports.  Dr. Kaar and Dr. Simon also shared how schools in the Denver area have “flipped” elementary and high school start times and what they learned throughout the process.

Ron Sukle shared additional information regarding the impact on sports and activities if high school were to start later.  He also spoke with several school districts who did make the switch and what they learned as well as the challenges they are facing.

Joey Eisenhut presented a comprehensive view of how transportation is functioning in ASD20.  He shared the staffing challenges the department currently faces as well as how the current two-tier busing system is not working.  Joey shared a three-tier system with the task force that would support less driver routes and the need for 25 less drivers.

Final Recommendation

The Start and End Times Committee proposes the implementation of the following recommendations, with the associated timelines:


  • 3-Tier System: Following the recommendation of a previous Transportation Task Force, Academy District 20 has been utilizing a 2-Tier System for transporting students to and from school for several years.  Moving to a 3-tier system, with a gap of 40 minutes between levels, will reduce the overall need for drivers and will increase the number of hours that each driver is working, thereby providing the district with a significant efficiency in reducing drivers and potentially improving retention.  During the current time of worker shortages, utilizing a 3-tier system will decrease the overall burden on Transportation as well as reduce the number of routes that need to be cancelled due to driver shortages.  Utilizing a 3-tier system will also allow more resources to be available to support fieldtrips, athletics, activities, and the possible reintroduction of after-school activity buses.

  • Impact: Moving to a 3-tier system for transportation will result in altered start and end times for nearly all schools. Adding the 40 minutes between levels will increase the total window of time that students are being transported, which may have an impact on families with students in more than one level.  Additionally, some elementary schools will be in session until 4 p.m.

Start and End Times

  • Start Times by Level: With the exception of the high school athletic directors, there was consensus to move the start time for high school students to later in the day and to move the start time for elementary students to earlier in the day.  If the 3-tier system for transportation is implemented, the recommendation for this group would be to have the elementary schools start with the first tier, followed by high schools, and the third tier would be middle schools.

  • Timeline for Implementation: While the group reached consensus about the 3-tier system for transportation, and that high school students should start school later and elementary-aged students should start earlier, the group did not reach consensus about when to implement the change.  Half of the group subscribed to the notion that we should “rip off the Band-aid” and make the change next year, the other half felt like with PLCs being added, this additional change may be too much.  The group did agree that they could live with either decision (consensus).  One additional consideration could be to make the 3-tier change for next year and then commit to making the start time change in a future year or years.

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