[Lapham-Marquette PTG] Changing middle school start times

Ellison Bentley ellison.bentley at gmail.com
Fri Apr 27 09:54:08 EDT 2018

Hello everyone,

Last night I attended one of the meeting about changing school start times,
and I thought many would be interested in what I learned. For those of you
who are not aware of this issue, multiple studies have shown better health
(even decreased rates of diabetes), better attendance, less behavior issues
and increased academic performance when middle schools start after 8:30.
The evidence is convincing enough that both the American Academy of
Pediatrics and the CDC recommend start times of 8:30 or later for middle
schools. See
for more information.

Other interesting points:

1.     This will be phased in over 4 years. The first three schools will
change in the 2019-2020 school year; *O’Keefe is not scheduled to change
until 2021*.

2.     With this change, the transportation policy for middle schools will
also change. Currently some middle schoolers get a Madison Metro bus pass,
but in most areas, this is available only to families who qualify for free
or reduced lunch. MMSD has no jurisdiction over behavior on Metro buses;
behavior issues can (and apparently sometimes do) get referred to the
police. With the school start time change, MMSD will provide yellow bus
service to *ALL students* more than 1.5 miles from the middle school, and
these buses will have an attendant on them. This is a big change that will
help many families.

Apparently, the reason these changes cannot be implemented faster is due to
Badger Bus’s inability to hire enough new drivers fast enough. The school
district representatives present last night were very clear that this was
the main impediment, not the school district’s budget. I would hope with
some pressure from parents, the district/Board of Education could force
Badger to move faster, although apparently there is a serious shortage of
bus drivers (who knew??). However, MMSD’s plan has not yet been approved by
the Board of Education (the school board), which will decide this summer.
If you want to contact them, one way to do so is: board at madison.k12.wi.us

Thanks for reading-Ellison Bentley
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