Next Steps in 2020-2021 school year (and beyond)
for Anne Arundel County
- January 8, 2020: The transportation consultant's report released to the public. Recommendation #27 relates to bell times. Report concludes it is possible to change school hours at no additional cost.
- March 10, 2020: Board of Education and transportation consultant hold workshop to discuss report recommendations. (Listen to Audio/Review Powerpoint).
- August 12, 2020: AACPS publishes its Fall 2020 Virtual School Hours. All students in Grades 3 through 12 will start at 8:30 a.m., while Prekindergarten through 2nd Grade will start at 9:00 a.m.
- December 2020: AACPS holds school start time workshop (watch here) and virtual public comment on school start times (watch here).
- January 20, 2021: The Board voted 7-1 on a motion asking AACPS to develop a plan by April 2021 for school hours to be implemented in no later than second semester of 2021-2022 school year, with the goals of Elementary School 8-9 a.m., Middle School 8:30-9:15 a.m., and High School 8:30 a.m.
- March 17, 2021: The Board approves a second contract with Prismatic Services to develop bus routes to implement school hours in 2021-2021 school year.
- 20201-2022 School Year?: New healthy, safe, and age-appropriate school hours for all students implemented????
A History of School Start Times in Anne Arundel County
This summary is compiled from memories and news reports. Scroll down to see videos of powerful testimony.
- A photo on the wall at Maryland Hall (formerly Annapolis High School) from late 1950's/early 1960's (pre-desegregation), says buses arrived at 8a.m. for the long distance "commuters" and buses returned at 3:15 p.m. It should be noted that nearby, segregated Wiley H. Bates High School was the only high school for African Americans for the entire county, therefore those students often had even longer bus rides/ had to hitchhike to school, where the hours were 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- In 1964, a few Annapolis High School buses picked up at 7:50 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. according to schedules published in the Capital. A 1966 AHS graduate remembers school from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- In the Late 1960’s, Anne Arundel County high schools begin at 8:10 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m., based on an interview with a veteran teacher, although this letter writer recalls a 9 a.m. start. Nearly all school levels start at about the same time.
- In the Early 1970's, high school hours are 8:40 a.m. to 3:15 p.m, mostly to account for school construction, though at some schools there was both an early morning school session and an afternoon session.
- On August 31, 1971, the Capital pubished bus schedules. Annapolis high school bus routes all began ~7:30 a.m. (The scan is fairly blurry, but you can make out the times.)
- In January 1974, the entire nation moved to Permanent Daylight Saving Time. With winter sunrise going from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., AACPS temporarily delayed all start times 30 minutes. On January 5, 1974, the Baltimore Sun wrote about the start time delay.
- By the Late 1970's high school started closer to 8:15 a.m.
- In the Early 1980's: High school runs from 7:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., presumably to allow for more efficient busing and when the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) mandates that students have to spend more "clock time" in school.
- February 1, 1984: An AACPS Task Force opposes adding an optional 7th period to the high school day, as described in the Baltimore Sun (page 1 and page 2)
- November 14, 1985: Adding 15 minutes to high school day will cost $100,000 in transportation costs, as described in the Evening Sun (page 1 and page 2).
- In January 1986 (midyear) high school start time shifted from 7:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. to add 15 minutes to high school length (2 minutes per class period). Parents and students complained, to no effect.
- August 6, 1991: 15 minutes are added to elementary, middle, and junior high schools, creating a uniform 6.5 hour day for middle/junior high school and 6.25 hour day for elementary. The time was added at beginning or end. All elementary schools begin between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Baltimore Sun page 1 and page 2.
- November 12, 1991: Activity buses cut to save $331,000 and balance budget. See Capital article.
- 1994: High school start time moves from 7:30 to 7:25 "to accommodate bus schedules"
- February 11, 1995: Some Elementary and Middle School (20% of schools) shifted to a latest start time of 9:35 a.m. and a dismissal time of 3:50 (was 3:30) to save $330,000 on transportation. See Capital article.
- June 27, 1996: High school is shifted to 7:17 a.m. from 7:25 a.m. to make up time for potential snow day closures. In a Washington Post article a Board of Education member mentions later start times for high school would actually be better for the students than starting eight minutes earlier.
- July 31,1998: The start/release time of 35 schools, primarily elementary shifted for upcoming school year to balance school budget. Two elementary schools (Meade Heights and Windsor Farms) release at 4:00 p.m. See Capital article.
- August 9, 1998: A letter to the editor about late starting elementary schools is published in the Capital.
- December 31, 1998: A letter in the Washington Post calls for moving AACo high school start times an hour later (scroll down or do a keyword search to find it in the link).
- 1999/2000: Shifting start times are discussed, including a student-led group that recommended later high school start times.
- 2000-2001: Annapolis High School is proposed for a pilot program to implement a 9 a.m. high school start time. The program is never implemented.
- 2004: The Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) writes to the Anne Arundel Department of Health requesting their opinion on school hours. The Deputy Health Officer responded with this letter.
- 2005: A Board of Education member says something to the effect of, “Oh, we know all the science. We don't dispute it. But we don't have the money. Find us the money, and we'll do it.”
- January 2006: Several Board of Education motions to shift start times (varying from 15 minutes to high schools at 9 a.m., ranging in cost from $0 to millions of dollars, respectively) fail to earn sufficient votes.
- November 2006: Parents in Severna Park and Annapolis high school clusters push for a pilot program for their school(s) to start at 8 a.m. (Read Part 1 and Part 2.)
- December 2006: Director of High Schools George Arlotto states that Superintendent Kevin Maxwell "shared with me that he does not intend to move forward with a recommendation regarding changing the high school start times."
- September 27, 2007: The Maryland Office of Legislative Audits reviews AACPS and recommends transportation software and transporation routing metrics.
- In 2007, a video of Anne Arundel County students sleeping in class is part of an attempt to petition President Obama regarding school hours.
- January 7, 2012: A Chapter of Start School Later is founded for Anne Arundel County (SSL AACo).
- October 21, 2012: Start School Later AACo creates a Move-On petition.
- December 21, 2012: A Meade High School freshman is killed at 6 a.m. crossing the street.
- January 11, 2013: SSL AACo presents the Move-On petition to the AACPS Board of Education.
- December 2013-February 2014: AACPS surveys parents about a 13 minute shift to 7:30 a.m. Results are split evenly overall. But when broken down by school level, elementary was against (58%), but both middle (54%) and high school (62%) were in favor of the small slide.
- February 2014: The AACPS Start Times Task Force created.
- June 25, 2014: The Maryland Office of Legislative Audits reviews AACPS and recommends (for the second time) transportation software and transportation routing metrics.
- August 25, 2014: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no middle or high school start before 8:30 a.m.
- October 2014: The Start Times Task Force presents a report to the Board of Education. Four options are presented to shift start times. More than two-thirds of survey respondents in November desired some kind of change in school start times. The task force recommended the purchase of transportation software since bus transportation routes are currently calculated by hand based on experience or institutional knowledge.
- December 2014: Superintendent George Arlotto includes money to purchase transportation software in his 2015-2016 budget.
- December 2014: The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Maryland Department of Education issue a joint study recommending that schools conduct feasibility studies of no schools starting before 8 a.m.
- January 2015: The County Council unanimously passes resolution 6-15 urging AACPS to purchase transportation software and take steps to establish healthy school hours.
- February 2015: The Board of Education adjusts its proposed budget by including $602,000 to shift school start times in 2016-2017 school year, in addition to funding for transportation software.
- June 2015: The County Council approves AACPS's budget for the transportation software purchase and $602,000 for a start time shift.
- June 2015: The Board of Education reaffirms its intention to shift start times in 2016-2017 school year. No details are provided.
- August 2015: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that U.S. schools start too early.
- August 2015: A contract is awarded by AACPS for transportation software (SEON).
- October 20, 2015: A public Workshop on School Start and Dismissal Times is held. Task Force information is re-presented and representatives from Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland present about their bell time changes implemented in Fall 2015.
- December 16, 2015: Superintendent George Arlotto includes $8 million for his version of Option A in his 2016-2017 budget (different from Task Force Option A) in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget. Proposed school hours will change in August 2017.
- January 12, 2016: Superintendent George Arlotto releases details about community outreach forums and a proposed bell schedule for every school in the district.
- February 2, 4, 8, 2016: Start Time Forums are held. Community surveyed regarding proposal.
- February 17, 2016: The Board of Education removes $8 million line item, in the face of community opposition to single proposal. Instead the Board votes 7-2 to include $1.4 million in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget for later start times for the 2017-2018 school year. Using transportation software and critical thought will define how much of a shift in start times this money, combined with $602,000 previously allocated, will achieve.
- March 16, 2016: The Board of Education asks Dr. Arlotto and AACPS to develop two new start time scenarios: one for the $602,000 already in hand and one for the $1.4 million requested and to be added to existing $602,000 ($2 million total).
- April 20, 2016: AACPS recommends two new plans for start times.
- May 2, 2016: County Executive forwards the budget to the County Council, with the original funding for $602,000 for later start times.
- June 2016: The American Medical Association recommends that no middle or high school start before 8:30 a.m.
- June 15, 2016: The County Council approves the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, with the original $602,000 for later start times.
- August 2016: A pilot program for recent immigrants/english language learners who are working and cannot make it to school at 7:17 a.m., begins at Annapolis High School. Modified school hours are 11 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. The early start time is noted as a reason some teens drop out of school to work.
- September 21, 2016: The Board of Education votes to delay high schools 13 minutes to 7:30 a.m. All other schools will be delayed 15 minutes. This will go into effect for the 2017-2018 school year.
- December 21, 2016: Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Arlotto does not include any money in his proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget.
- February 15, 2017: The motion to amend the FY18 budget to include money for healthy school hours in 2018-2019 school year, does not earn a "second." The motion fails without discussion.
- September 5, 2017: New school hours implemented. A 13 minute delay for high schools to 7:30 a.m. and a 15 minute delay for most other schools.
- October 22, 2017: On the 5th anniversary of the original petition, SSL AACO launches a new petition.
- February 21, 2018: The Board of Education declines to amend the budget to include additional monies for school hours.
- November 6, 2018: First elections for Board of Education positions in Districts 1, 4, 5, and 7. (Districts 2, 3, and 6 Board of Education elections in 2020.)
- February 6, 2019: Board of Education tasks AACPS with developing a Request for Proposal to seek outside assistance with transportation routing with the goals of 1) moving late starting elementary schools earlier as soon as possible and 2) identifying bell scenarios and cost estimates to move high school to a later start time.
- March 6, 2019: AACPS provides draft Request for Proposal for Board (RFP) review/future approval. Within the draft scope of work: "Recommendations and costs associated with changes to school start and dismissal time scenarios; essentially to compress said times to allow for a later start for those schools with the earliest start times and an earlier compeletion for those schools with the latest dismissal times. Develop, analyze, and cost out various optimatization models to assist AACPS in investigating compressing school start and dismissal times. Determine the impact and costs of the various scenarios on the AACPS Transportation Department and associated school operations. Also examine opportunities to cost effectively shorten the duration of the longest bus route run times where possible and practcable." Watch the video at 1:28:25. BOE approved the scope of work at the March 20 meeting.
- May 13. 2019: Anne Arundel County Public Schools releases a Request for Proposal to hire a transportation consultant to assist them in determining some bell time schedules, among other transportation evaluations. Bids due on June 12, 2019.
- July 10, 2019: the Board of Education approves the contract of $135, 811 for Prismatic Services to evaluate AACPS transportation system. Interim report due November 4, 2019, with final report due January 3, 2020.
- September 2019: The Anne Arundel Mental Health Task Force holds its first meeting. The Joint Initiative to Eliminate the Achievement Gap also begins meeting.
- December 19, 2019: The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force issued its Final Preliminary Report, which included a reference to student mental health, risky behaviors, and school start times. "Improve mental health and decrease risk behaviors among adolescents by promoting increased sleep through healthy school start times."
- January 8, 2020: The transportation consultant's report released to the public. Recommendation #27 relates to bell times. No additional Cost anticipated.
- March 10, 2020: Board of Education and transportation consultant hold workshop to discuss report recommendations. The presentation slides and an audio file of the presentation are available.
- March 16 2020: AACPS begins shifts to e-learning, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic and state mandated closure of school buildings.
- March 27, 2020: Superintendent Arlotto's letter regrading e-learning "Online learning days will consist of two three-hour blocks: 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. There will be a two hour break from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day...The classroom will be virtual, schedules will be flexible, bells won’t ring. Students will be more independent."
- March 30, 2020: E-learning implemented. Elementary School suggested schedule include waking between 6:30-7:30 and starting work at 8:15-8:30 a.m. Middle School suggested schedule includes waking between 7:30-8:30 and starting work between 9:15-9:30 a.m. A suggested high school schedule was not yet posted , but a letter stated "There is no mandated time when your student must login to work or learn in a real time with their teacher. "
- May 1, 2020: County Executive Steuart Pittman declines to include funding to address the recommendations of the transportation report.
- June 6, 2020: The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force issues its Final Report, which includes a reference to school start times and adolescent sleep. "Implement a later school start time in order to increase sleep for adolescents as prevention for gun violence risk factors".
- June 10, 2020: County Council restores funding for the 7 transportation routing personnel for FY 2021.
- June 17, 2020: BOE votes to transfer 7 transportation positions to mental health professioinals.
- July 2020: The Anne Arundel NAACP, Anne Arundel Connecting Together (ACT), and a collaboration of Community Groups submit testimony/statements to ask the County Council to reject the BOE budget amendment. Links to all three letters available here.
- On July 6th, the County Council discussed Resolution Resolution #27-20 and #28-20 to address transportation funding, as described in the Capital Gazette. In a 4-3 vote, the County Council approves Resolution #28-20 to stop the movement of funding from transportation to mental health staff. Resolution #27-20 urging the BOE to make both transportation and mental health a priority failed by a vote of 3-4.
- July 22, 2020: During the video conference meeting discussing the Fall 2020 online school and in response to a question about what the school day will look like, Dr Arlotto said, "We are looking at probably starting the day a little later. So, instead of your high school day starting at 7:30, maybe we'll start at 8:00, maybe we'll start at 8:15. Right? Give you a little bit of extra time to sleep." (1:49:23 to 1:49:34)
- August 12, 2020: AACPS publishes its Fall 2020 Virtual School Hours. All students in Grades 3 through 12 will start at 8:30 a.m., while Prekindergarten through 2nd Grade will start at 9:00 a.m. School starts on September 8th.
- October 7, 2020: The Mental Health Task Force Report is released. The report declines to include the role of sleep, teen biology, and school start times, on mental health.
- November 6, 2020: The Joint Initiative to Eliminate the Opportunity Gap Report is released. The report declines to mention start times, but does include "Prioritize addressing transportation issues as a significant barrier." within Priority Recommendation #2.
- December 14, 2020: The Board of Education hosts a Virtual School Start and Dismissal Time Workshop (watch here).
- December 21, 2020: The Board of Education accepts virtual public comment on school start and dismissal times (watch here).
- January 20, 2021: The Board voted 7-1 on a motion asking AACPS to develop a plan for school hours to be implemented in 2021-2022 school year, with the goals of Elementary School 8-9 a.m., Middle School 8:30-9:15 a.m., and High School 8:30 a.m. The Capital summarized the meeting.
- March 2021: Hybrid learning starts March 1. Schools revert to pre-pandemic start times, even if students remain virtual. On March 17th, High School's instructional time for virtual Wellness class changed to begin at 8:30 a.m.
- March 17, 2021: The Board approves a second contract with Prismatic Services to develop bus routes to implement school hours in 2021-2021 school year.
Videos of Testimony
Daughter/Mother testimony before the Board of Education. October 21, 2015
Three students testifying before County Council at the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Hearing. May 12, 2016
Meade Heights Elementary School principle, staff, and parents testify at the Board of Education how challenging their already late start and end times are for their students, before the 15 minute slide to 9:40 a.m. April 19, 2017
Acting Health Officer Fran Phillips responds to questions from the County Council (acting as the Board of Health) regarding school start times. It was an issue back in 1996 she says... November 20, 2017
North County High School student Public Service Announcement on teen sleep. October 2017
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