This week the Peoria Public Schools began surveying parents regarding a proposed change in school day schedules. Currently, the District has a two-tier system: some schools start at 7:30 a.m. and dismiss at 2:30 p.m. and some schools start at 8:30 a.m. and dismiss at 3:30 p.m. The district’s leadership team is recommending a change to a three-tier system with schools following either a 7:20 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. schedule; an 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. schedule, or a 9:10 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. schedule. By making this change, it would reduce the number of buses needed and on the road each day from 117 to 91, a savings of approximately $40,000 per bus per year.
We realize that family routines are determined by many factors: school schedules, the availability of before- and after-care for young children, after-school sports and extra-curricular activities, work schedules of parents and high school student schedules. To determine how the proposed change will affect families, we are asking our families, staff and the community to take a look at the proposed schedule change, the Frequently Asked Questions
, and take the survey at www.peoriapublicschools.org
or on their home school’s website.
There are two reasons we are considering such a change. The first is the overwhelming research evidence, including recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that adolescents are prone to sleep deprivation which can have serious health effects. While sleep is equally as important for primary students, we know that their sleep schedule is generally more adaptable.
In 2015, Anne Wheaton, CDC epidemiologist said in a statement, “Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health, safety, and academic performance. Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need.”
Similarly, in 2015 the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report saying, “Furthermore, a substantial body of research has now demonstrated that delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports the efforts of school districts to optimize sleep in students and urges high schools and middle schools to aim for start times that allow students the opportunity to achieve optimal levels of sleep (8.5–9.5 hours) and to improve physical (e.g. reduced obesity risk) and mental (e.g. lower rates of depression) health, safety (e.gg. drowsy driving crashes), academic performance, and quality of life.”
The second benefit for the change is a savings of more than $1 million in transportation costs for the Peoria Public Schools while maintaining our current level of transportation to students. The only other option to reduce transportation costs would be to extraordinarily disrupt services that are currently offered to our students.
The Peoria Public Schools has attempted a three-tier schedule in the past, but had not left a large enough window between bus runs, resulting in late buses and disruptions to the school day. The proposed schedule includes a 55-minute window between tiers and each tier will have approximately the same number of routes, both necessities identified by our team to make the proposal work and allow us to see the projected savings.
The proposed plan does not shorten or lengthen school days and the vast majority of bus stops will remain the same. For most students, route changes will result in bus rides that are the same or shorter.
If the schedule changes are made, we will continue to evaluate the three-tier system and seek feedback from parents and the community.
I encourage you to read about the proposed change and take the survey. Visit our website to find the link and participate in our current opportunity for feedback! The survey closes at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 26th.