AMENDED - Beginning in Fall of 2021: Bell Time Changes Approved
Rochester Public Schools

The conversation around bell times for students have occurred for many years, and the School Board revisited this conversation once more to discuss pushing up the start date.


On Tuesday, January 12, the School Board unanimously approved a change to start times for schools for the 2021-2022 school year, reversing their earlier decision.

The school day will now run from 8:20 AM to 3:30 PM for high school students, 8:20 AM to 3 PM for middle school students, and 9:35 AM to 4 PM for elementary school students.

After two years of studies, feedback, and community involvement, the School Board voted to accept option B. This change in school start and end times will coincide with the boundary changes beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. To watch a playback of the school board meeting, please visit youtube.com/ISD535.

Bell Time Study Background

Two options were presented in November to the school board as potential solutions for a later start time for secondary students, one start time was earlier for elementary students and the other option was later. The school board asked for feedback from the community, staff, students, and parents. The District hosted a Thoughtexchange in the month of December. More than 7,200 people participated, with a total of almost 10,000 thoughts. You can find this summary on BoardDocs. 

Take a deeper dive into the feedback on the ThoughtExchanges:

 Staff, Parent, and Community ThoughtExchange

 Student ThoughtExchange

The District also hosted a live-streamed meeting from 6 - 7 PM on Wednesday, December 11 with Dr. Auger from Mayo Clinic. A recap and replay of this meeting is available below. Around 50 people attended the meeting. 

The goal of the Thoughtexchange and community meeting was to determine if one of the options was more favorable, or if the District needed to pursue other options. Additionally, the goal of the feedback was to extrapolate themes that are important to our students, as well as our community, parents, and staff.

After reviewing the feedback, the Bell Time Committee made adjustments to the proposed start time schedules due to instructional time, calendar days, and budget costs. 

On February 10, at a study session, the school board discussed additional options and gave the District redefined parameters with the expectation that two options would be available as a briefing item for the February 18, 2020 school board meeting.

On February 18, the school board received these options and had a robust conversation about school start times. After further consideration, the school board decided to hold on implementation in favor of gathering more feedback from stakeholders, and more research specifically in the area of elementary school students and their learning. As a procedural matter, Chair Seelinger suggested the school board move one option to action and vote it down so that the topic could be removed from future agendas until the additional input is ready to present. 

The District will bring back a recommendation after further work and additional feedback. School start times for the 2020-2021 school year will remain the same, with more conversations occurring in the upcoming months. 

Update: February 1, 2020

Bell times for the 2020-2021 school year have yet to be determined. Conversations on bell times will continue through the month of February, first with a study session on February 10 at the Facilities Services Center (3935 Hwy. 14 E.), and a tentative presentation to the school board on February 18, 2020 at the Edison Board Room (615 7thStreet SW).

Update: December 12, 2019

The District has been researching changes to our bell times for years. We are considering a later start time for our students as early as Fall 2020, but it is important to hear from our students, parents, staff, and community members before we make any decision. Initially, the District studied the cost of one start time across the district for elementary and secondary students. This would require changes to our busing schedule which would cost us an additional six million dollars per year.

So, a committee of approximately 15 individuals throughout the District studied the pros and cons of two different start time options. We presented these options to the school board on November 12th. 

We’re exploring both options for a variety of reasons including our increased emphasis on social and emotional health. We believe sleep is a major contributor to our students’ wellness.

On December 11, the District hosted a community meeting in order to seek feedback on these options. A replay of the community meeting is available on our YouTube Channel. The meeting began with a sleep presentation by Dr. Robert Auger from Mayo Clinic. The District's information on both options was presented as well. 

We're asking our parents, staff, students, and community members to provide their feedback through a Thoughtexchange. This exchange will be open until December 20, 2019. The District will compile the themes from the exchange, along with the feedback from the community meeting, and present them to the RPS School Board in late January. 

A side-by-side comparison of the current bell times, compared with the proposed options is a helpful resource when considering which option is more favorable to you.