Healthy start times

What is changing?

We are changing our schools’ start times schedule next year based on learnings from our community feedback as well as the most current research about adolescent development. We plan to solidify our bell schedules and announce the official new times before the last day of school on June 20, 2023.

We understand that even small changes to our schedule deeply impact our community and particularly our families who are juggling multiple work, school and family members’ schedules. With this in mind, we are attempting to minimize the impact as much as possible while still being informed by research, guided by feedback from the community, and maximizing the new opportunities for systemic improvements it offers. 

What are the proposed new times and how do they compare to the current start times?


Proposed start time

Previous start times

Proposed end time

Previous end time

Elementary* (all neighborhood schools) 8:00 a.m. first bell
8:10 a.m. tardy bell
8:20 a.m. first bell
8:30 a.m. tardy bell
2:30 p.m. 2:50 p.m.
Lincoln and Minnehaha Elementary 8:00 a.m. first bell
8:10 a.m. tardy bell
9:10 a.m. first bell
9:20 a.m. tardy bell
2:30 p.m. 3:30 p.m.
Middle school (all neighborhood schools) 9:30 a.m. 8:55 a.m. 4:00 p.m. 3:30 p.m.
High school (all neighborhood schools) 8:40 a.m. 7:30 a.m. 3:15 p.m. 2:05 p.m.
Flex/iTech/VSAA 9:30 a.m. 9:35 a.m. 4:00 p.m. 4:05 p.m.
Gateway to Adult Transition Education (GATE)
Jim Tangeman Center (JTC)
8:45 a.m. 8:30 a.m. 1:45 p.m. GATE
2:45 p.m. JTC
1:30 p.m. GATE
2:30 p.m. JTC
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG)
Vancouver Innovation, Technology and Arts (VITA)
8:45 a.m. N/A 3:15 p.m. N/A

Please note: Due to the Heights Campus unique schedule structure we will be working directly with that school to adjust start times in a way that works for those students and also allows us to provide transportation for them in the coming year.

*Early Childhood Education programs will follow Elementary School schedules, with a proposed start time of 8:00 a.m.

Why change start times?

Students benefit greatly academically and healthwise

A large amount of research has demonstrated that later school start times offset chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents. 

Research is so strong the American Academy of Pediatrics officially recommends later school start times for middle and high school students. 

Starting middle and high schools after 8:30 a.m. resulted in many positive outcomes including:

  • students reporting feeling healthier and less likely to be depressed

  • significant reduction in local car crashes

  • less absenteeism and less tardiness

  • higher scores on national achievement tests

Community feedback

We have heard from numerous parents that their high school students are struggling with early start times particularly when considering the after-school extracurricular and work schedules they must also balance.

Addressing bus transportation issues 

Adjusting start times will allow us to minimize the impact of our bus driver staffing shortage and reduce the number of buses running late. 

But, when buses are running late, it will be older, more responsible students who will be impacted instead of our youngest learners.

Aligning more start times and having elementary school students start first should mean more buses will be available for extracurricular and sporting events in the evening after school hours. This has been a challenge and equity concern with our current schedule.

What are the key challenges of the new start times?

We know that while there are a number of benefits, any change like this is going to have numerous challenging impacts on our community.

Domino effect on schedules community-wide

The biggest challenge this change poses is the impact changing school schedules will have on the schedules of our students’ parents and siblings, and our community partners. 

We are mindful of the impact this change will have on those organizations that offer childcare to younger siblings and before- and after-school care for our students. We know these organizations have usually set their work hours based on ours and their employees and operations will be impacted. 

We understand the shifting of the hours will also impact a number of our partners and neighboring school districts who support after-school activities ranging from sports to tutoring. 

Impact on the time allotted for breakfast at school

Another challenge we have considered is that the new start times may reduce the time students have for eating breakfast after arriving at school. While this will likely look different at different schools, each school is working on a plan that will ensure our students still have access to a free breakfast and time to eat it.

Elementary students will be catching the bus earlier

While start times for elementary schools are approximately 20 minutes earlier, we are only adjusting bus times for elementary students by about 15 minutes and also adjusting how we offer our breakfast service in an effort to reduce this scheduling change impact.

When will the decision be made?

On May 25, we announced that VPS is moving ahead with changing the school start times beginning with the 2023-24 school year. The official new times will be finalized and announced before the last day of school on June 20, 2023.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts

Please know we are not taking this decision lightly, and are proposing a new schedule that is intended to minimize these impacts, but this is also why we reached out to our community for input so we can consider all angles and work to minimize any unintended consequences and support our community the best we can.

Please see the thoughts, questions, and concerns about this proposed change.

Let’s connect