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Rochester Public Schools changes start times

Rochester Public Schools
Rochester Public Schools(KTTC)
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 8:32 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – On Tuesday, the Rochester Public Schools (RPS) Superintendent, Kent Pekel, proposed district-wide start time changes move up 10 minutes.

Current start times:

  • 8:20 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. High Schools
  • 8:20 a.m. -3:00 p.m. Middle Schools
  • 9:35 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Elementary Schools

New start times:

  • 8:10 a.m. - 3:20 p.m. High Schools
  • 8:10 a.m. - 2:50 p.m. Middle Schools
  • 9:25 a.m. - 3:50 p.m. Elementary Schools

“My recommendation would be for next year that we move the system earlier by 10 minutes as a step in that direction to get some of our youngest learners a bit closer to that prime learning time, without sacrificing the benefits of some later start times for our secondary students,” Pekel said.

RPS received 9,499 survey responses from parents, students and staff regarding the following proposed start time changes:

  • 8:00 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. Elementary students
  • 9:15 a.m. - 3:53 p.m. Middle Schools
  • 9:15 a.m. - 4:12 High Schools

Previous feedback from staff and parents contributed to that proposed time.

“Middle school and high school students have really benefited from the later start time. However, elementary school students have lost some prime learning time where they are most alert and most engaged,” said Pekel in April.

The district said proposed start time changes would cost the district $907,284 for transportation costs.

Here are some data from the survey responses:

  • 40% of parent surveyors supported the change. 53% opposed.
  • 54% of staff surveyors supported the change. 41% opposed.
  • 56% of elementary surveyors supported the change. 28% opposed.
  • 11% of secondary surveyors supported the change. 82% opposed.

The school board plans to revisit the possibility of start times again during the next school year.

“When you talk about this it’s critical to remind people that we have entirely redrawn the map of the district for next year, during this period. So if people say, ‘what a minute? Why are they continuing this? Can’t they just make a decision?’ We have completely changed the transportation system during this time period,” Pekel said.

The school board supported Pekel’s decision.

“I think it’s a good stop-gap of what we’re currently doing and what potentially might be better. And we really do need at least another year to explore all of those kinds of options,” said Julie Workman, RPS board member.

RELATED STORY: RPS discusses school start time changes

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