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Published May 14 2012

Moorhead School Board looks at later start to school day

MOORHEAD – Under new plans to cut costs, some Moorhead students could see later starting times to their school day beginning this fall.

At its Monday night meeting, the Moorhead School Board discussed its final four options, including three new plans created after last month’s meeting, that would change the day’s starting and ending times.

Each plan would save costs by cutting down the number of bus routes in the school district.

Whichever plan is adopted, though, the school day will change no matter what after the board added 15 minutes to the day earlier this year. Prior to that, Moorhead had the 16th-shortest school day in the state, according to Assistant Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak.

Under scenario No. 2, elementary schools would run from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.; Horizon Middle School from 7:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and Moorhead High School from 8:05 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. That plan would save the district $250,000.

Scenario No. 7, which was developed following feedback to plans presented at the April 23 board meeting, saves $400,000 and has the elementary schools starting at 8 a.m. and going until 2:45 p.m.; the middle school from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.; and the high school from 8:30 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.

Scenarios No. 8 and 9 both save $325,000, with No. 8 having the elementary schools run from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.; the middle school from 9:10 a.m. to 3:55 p.m.; and the high school from 8:30 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. Scenario No. 9 has all schools starting and ending five minutes earlier.

Currently, elementary schools go from 8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.; the middle school from 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.; and the high school from 8:25 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

All but scenario No. 2 push back the starting time of the middle school. This is an important factor, Kazmierczak said, citing research that shows that later start times are especially advantageous for adolescent students.

“The research is pretty clear,” he said. “Later start times improve attendance, resulting in fewer tardies and better grades.”

Kazmierczak said the district has received a large amount of feedback on the issue from parent-teacher groups that was considered in creating scenarios 7, 8 and 9.

Kazmierczak hopes to make a final recommendation to the board at its May 29 meeting.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535

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