ROCK SPRINGS — The Sweetwater County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the school calendars and start/end times for the next two school years during a special meeting tonight.
Based on community feedback gathered by a committee made up of district employees, parents, students, business owners and board members, the majority of voters opted for a 144-day school year. The committee also recommended a start/end time schedule as follows:
- K-6 : 8:40 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.
- 7-8: 8:00 a.m. to 4:05 p.m.
- 9-12: 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
However, the board requested that the committee develop an additional option which became the schedule the trustees eventually approved tonight.
The option approved will have the following start/end time schedule.
- K-6 : 8:10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- 7-8: 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
- 9-12: 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Trustee Max Mickelson, who sat on both the calendar and start/end time committees, said the strong opinion of the committee was to have secondary students start between 8:30-8:45 a.m. He said research shows that student achievement levels increase by starting a little later in the morning.
But he added the decision to present the optional schedule is “a solid compromise that respects the research, the needs of the community and the desires of the staff.”
Human Resources Director Nicole Bolton told the board that transportation was one of the main factors in considering the start/end time schedules. She said the district had to decide whether it wants to build the schedule around bus routes and offer the same transportation, or rethink how transportation is provided if the schedule is not built around busing.
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s going to be the lesser of two evils,” Bolton said. “There’s no way it’s going to be a win-win. It’s going to be a give or take either way you go with.”
District Transportation Director Joe Clingenpeel said he’s looking into routing software that his drivers can use to make the overall busing system more efficient. He said the district currently has 54 drivers covering 90 routes each day.
Bolton added that the district received more than 1,000 comments concerning the start and end times for the new school year. Most of the feedback came from parents with students between grades 9-12.
The new calendar including the approved start/end times will be implemented for the 2021-22 and 2022-2023 school years.