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High schools will start at 8:35 a.m. next fall

Among the changes for School District 833 next school year, parents can add new school-day start times.

Instead of getting to their first hour classes at 7:30 a.m., high school students will start at 8:35 a.m. and end the day at 3:05 p.m.

The school board, at the Feb. 17 meeting, approved new district-wide start times 5-2 with board members Jim Gelbmann, Ellen Ayers, Tracy Brunnette, Denise Kapler and Marsha Adou voting in favor and board chair Ron Kath and member Leslee Boyd voting against.

The board approved Plan Three from a set of four plans submitted by the school start-time task force that has been meeting since October.

The task force studied research saying that adolescents have no conscious control of the time they sleep because of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone, which causes them to fall asleep at 11 p.m. and wake at 8 a.m.

After hearing from researchers, including sleep experts from the University of Minnesota, task force members were convinced and worked to find a schedule that would not increase transportation costs and move from four district start times to five.

The changes will take place next fall when East Ridge High School opens and ninth-grades move to high schools. Grades six, seven and eight will be in middle schools, changing from a six-period day to eight.

School walking distances will be reduced from one-and-a-half miles to one mile for middle and elementary schools and to one-and-a-half miles for high school students.

Because of a desire for the Alternative Learning Center for secondary students to also have a later start time, Plan Three was amended so students will be bused to their home high schools and shuttled to ALC at the District Program Center in Cottage Grove.

Newport Elementary School, which was slated for a 9:20 a.m. start instead of the current 8:10 a.m. start, will have the option to choose a 7:30 a.m. start.

Task Force Facilitator Dave Bernhardson said the school staff and parents would be asked to choose from the two options.

Under Plan Three, the Math and Science Academy will start at 7:30 a.m.

Cottage Grove, Lake, Oltman and Woodbury Middle schools will start at 7:55 a.m. and Pine Harbor School will start at 8 a.m.

Armstrong, Hillside, Red Rock, Middleton, Cottage Grove, Crestview, Royal Oaks, Woodbury, Pine Hill and Pullman will start at 8:10 a.m.

High schools and St. Ambrose School will start at 8:35 a.m.

Nuevas Fronteras, Grey Cloud, Liberty Ridge and Bailey (including Gateway) will start 9:20 a.m. along with Hope Christian and New Life academies and St. Andrew's and Woodbury Lutheran schools.

Crosswinds and Valley Crossing schools will start at 9:15 a.m.

School districts, according to Minnesota law, are required to bus non-public school students at no cost.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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