DPS weighs options for later school start times

Denver Public Schools
Posted at 1:25 PM, Feb 10, 2022

DENVER — Colorado's largest school district is considering different options for later school start times.

A virtual community event was held Wednesday night for Denver Public Schools to provide information to families and community members on options for later start times to help improve kids’ health.

Beginning in the fall of 2023, all DPS middle and high school students will start class no earlier than 8:20 a.m. in an effort to help support healthier sleeping habits in teenagers. Some of those students’ start times are currently as early as 7:40 a.m.

During Wednesday's meeting, the district presented three options for carrying out healthy start times.

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The first option would have the bell time range remaining similar to the current times, with some elementary schools starting at 7:30 a.m. and middle and high schools starting no earlier than 8:20 a.m. This option would allow the district to keep all current bus routes.

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The second option would have middle and high schools start and end at similar times, which would require reducing transportation to 20 schools.

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The third and final option has all schools with the same bell times, which would put elementary schools at 7:50 a.m. start times and middle and high schools at 8:50 a.m. start times. This option would require cutting transportation to 100 schools to make it possible.

Each option has various implications that could impact athletics, extracurricular activities, clubs and transportation.

DPS introduced the concept in 2021 following a board of education resolution.

Officials said they’re basing it off of research studies that show later start times support better academic performance and the overall physical and mental health of teenagers.

“Sleep is critical for our students’ mental and physical health, and we know that our adolescent students are not getting enough sleep,” said Dustin Kress with DPS during the Wednesday meeting. “We have the power with our start times to help students catch up on that sleep deficit.”

The district is continuing to take in feedback from the community on the different options and providing updates on their healthy start times page.