HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. – There’s debate over school start and end times for Hamilton Southeastern Schools. Administrators at HSE are looking into this district-wide change that would impact nearly 19,000 students daily. It’s a discussion that’s gone on for years and school leaders are looking to make progress.
“There are advantages,” said Dr. Allen Bourff, the Superintendent of Hamilton Southeastern Schools, at its recent school board meeting on January 15.
The discussion follows a survey sent out by HSE to see what the community thought about the change to school start and end times. Of the 1,840 comments sent in, 515 people (42%) are in favor of the change and 714 people (58%) said they’re opposed.
“What we did is bring in all of our administrators together and had a data reading session and we read, we compiled those comments in terms of positives and negatives,” Bourff explained. “The reasons given by those who were opposed to the flipping, had to do primarily with after school care concerns.”
HSE leaders are reviewing two models of a 3-tier transportation system. According to information provided on the district website, the school board is reviewing two models of a 3-tier transportation system.
"In one model, bus drivers would begin their day picking up students in grades 5-8, then running a second tier of pick-ups involving high school students and a third tier of pick-ups involving students in grades K-4.
In the second model, bus drivers would begin their day with high school students, then students in grades 5-8, and in the third tier students in grades K-4."
“Truly, until we have accurate enrollment figures next year, knowing where those kiddos come from, what neighbors we’re going into, we won’t have that specific number yet,” said a presenter at the January 15 school board meeting.
It’s a discussion happening at districts across central Indiana. When comparing times at elementary schools, HSE starts the latest at 8:55 a.m. and ends closer to 4 p.m. School leaders would like to change that to a start time of 7:50 a.m. and end at 2:20 p.m. You can click here to see the comparisons for other grades.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools has proposed the below start and end times. Administrators say the below times are not final and are still being reviewed.
- Elementary: 7:50 a.m. – 2:20 p.m.
- Intermediate: 8:10 a.m. – 3:10 p.m.
- Junior High: 8:55 a.m. – 3:55 p.m.
- High School: 8:55 a.m. – 3:55 p.m.
“The assumption is that if students' mental well-being improves, grades probably will too, but that’s not the purpose and many districts have not seen an appreciable increase in academic achievement as a result of that,” stated Bourff. “But that’s one measure we would be looking from our neighboring district.”
School leaders say the hope is to increase class effectiveness and improve attendance. Leaders say there’s data that shows this could also reduce the number of traffic accidents for students.
If the changes were approved, it could take effect for the 2020-2021 school year, but Superintendent Bourff says there’s still more work to do.
“This is not a proposal yet, there’s still a lot of discussion with the teachers we would like to have before we come back with a proposal,” Bourff added.
School leaders plan to discuss this at the next school board meeting on January 29. It's important to note that there has been no decision made on these changes.