DES MONIES, Iowa – Des Moines Public School students are beginning the 2018-2019 school year with new start times Thursday.
The new schedule is as follows:
- Elementary Schools: 7:30 a.m. – 2:25 p.m.
- Middle Schools (including Ruby Van Meter): 8:30 a.m. – 3:25 p.m.
- High Schools: 8:25 a.m. – 3:25 p.m.
Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart said medical research is the reason for the change in start times. It finds that middle and high school students excel in school when they have more sleep.
However, the district is looking into alternatives if the new start times fail.
“Right now we don’t think 7:30 is ideal start time for elementary. So, we are already working with our partners at DART, food service and other departments around the district to see if there is any way we can move that start time for the elementarys’ back. At this point it is not a possibility, but we are working as hard as we can to see if we have an avenue to do that,” Ahart said.
Ahart said the district will monitor how students adjust to the new times through data analysis through each quarter.
Downtown School Principal Rob Burnett said his students have been on the new schedule for two weeks now and seem to have adjusted fine.
“I’ve actually been pretty surprised it has been business as usual as quickly as it was, because it has been a big shift time wise for us. I think it has been more of a shift for the adults that are involved with our students lives,” Burnett said.
The district has seen organizations like the Des Moines NAACP rally against the new hours before school board meetings, concerned about students’ safety.
Burnett said the Downtown School has seen an increase in after school care.
“We’ve seen a slight increase in our side-based after school care. I know some of our partners that are used to picking up here have seen a slight increase in that. Pretty much for just that 30-45 minutes to an hour after school,” Burnett said.
Ahart said the district has been working with different departments to find a safe route to each school.
“We have been working with the city since last spring to make sure we have articulated exactly where those safe routes are. That we are marking those clearly, and communicating those in the form of maps to our families so everybody is clear on what the best route is, what the safest route is,” Ahart said.
Ahart said the district is providing every elementary school student with a free light that blinks for safety. Students can attached it to their backpack or jacket.
DMPS will continue to serve free breakfast to the elementary schools as students walk in the door each morning. All Des Moines Schools begin Thursday.