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DMPS Refines Proposed Changes to School Start Times

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Des Moines Public Schools will go to its school board and propose a revised version of improving its school hours.

If passed, the proposal will change the start time of elementary schools and secondary schools.

DMPS Director of Communications and Public Affairs  Phil Roeder said a lot of research has gone in to the proposal.

“Those changes made that would essentially flip-flop elementary and secondary school start times. A lot of that is based on research about the sleep patterns of children and adolescents,” Roeder said.

Elementary schools currently start between 8:15-8:45 a.m., middle schools start at 7:45 a.m., and high schools start at 7:40 a.m.

Roeder said, if passed the change would have elementary schools start at 7:30 a.m., middle schools at 8:30 a.m. and high schools at 8:25 a.m.

The idea was brought up last spring, but was tabled by the school board due to many conflicts. Roeder said DMPS has since revised the proposal.

“Under the proposed plan now, Smouse, which is an elementary age school would be at the same time as our elementary schools. Ruby Van Meter School, the secondary school, would be the same time as our middle school. It would not disrupt the day as much as the previous plan would have for those students. Hopefully, it will address some of the concerns that we heard from parents back in the spring,” Roeder said.

Parents are mixed on the idea of switching the start times.

Ashley Oxenreider said, “Elementary kids I would understand a later time, but high school needs to start preparing them for the real world and college. Where some classes start at 7 a.m.”

Parent Traci Gordon said, “I know my 10th grader isn’t learning much English at 7:45 a.m. He’s still trying to wake up. And in all honesty, I wouldn’t be learning much English at that time either.”

Parents will be able to participate in a survey from DMPS starting November 6th on their website.

The proposal will be brought to the school board on November 21st.

If passed, the change will be district wide and will go in to effect for the 2018-2019 school year.