Minneapolis Public Schools would shuffle start times next year for 20 schools, moving most of them more than half an hour later, according to a plan to save about $2 million.
The district outlined its plan in a fact sheet dated Tuesday, saying varied school starts are pinching transportation resources. The savings would make a dent in the $33 million budget deficit the district is projecting for the 2018-19 school year.
“As MPS examines ways to balance its budget after successive years of budget deficits, it makes sense to examine the many routes and services provided for student transportation,” the district said on its website.
Minneapolis’ 68 schools have 29 different start times. Roughly 20 schools with regular education busing start between 7:30 and 8:05 a.m.; just six schools start after 9:30 a.m. This top-heavy approach means that 78 extra buses are needed in rush hour.
“To balance this,” the district wrote in its fact sheet, “more schools need to shift closer to [the] 9:30 a.m. tier.”
The district will achieve cost savings from “getting multiple, extended runs from one bus,” it wrote.
The Minneapolis schools will hold community budget discussions in February, and the district has collected feedback from its parent advisory council, special education advisory council and a committee comprising department leaders and school principals.
Twenty schools are on the list for new start times, including all middle schools, which would start at 9:30 a.m. The goal was to keep the change to an hour or less, the district said, but four of the 20 schools will change by 70 minutes.
The district’s plan would push Bancroft, Barton, Bryn Mawr and Wilder Metro schools 70 minutes later. Other schools with large time shifts include Anthony Middle, Franklin Middle and Northeast Middle, which would change by an hour, and Jenny Lind Elementary, which would start 65 minutes earlier.
“Knowing the impact that has on families and structures within our schools, we’re going to be mindful,” Superintendent Ed Graff said at a recent board meeting.
The board’s finance committee will hear the start time proposal at its Jan. 25 meeting. It will then go to the full board as part of the budget approval process. Principals had information on the change Friday, district spokesman Dirk Tedmon said Tuesday, and schools were starting to inform families.
A 2015 district survey found that parents “overwhelmingly prefer” school days that begin between 8 and 8:30 a.m., and end between 2:30 and 3 p.m. But not every school can land in the sweet spot.
The Minneapolis district’s most recent large schedule change was in 2009, according to the district website.
Start-time discussions have been hot-button topics around the metro. St. Paul Public Schools voted this fall to move high school start times later in two years, meaning that some elementary students will have to start earlier. The Wayzata school district voted for a similar plan a couple of years ago. The changes were divisive for parents in both districts.
Lisa Mills is PTA president at Bryn Mawr Elementary, which would move from a 7:30 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. start time. She said she’s looking forward to sleeping in if the change is approved. Plus, her two kids — one at Bryn Mawr and one at Anwatin Middle — would end school closer to the same time.
The plan comes with pros and cons, she said. Parents who drop their kids off before work might have to arrange before-school care to adapt to a later start time, she said.
Mills added that the number of neighborhood families choosing Bryn Mawr has been dropping. She’s heard the early start time is difficult, and one reason parents consider other schools.
“Perhaps it’ll help us with recruiting families from our neighborhood,” Mills said.