Start time change at Park City schools set for 2018-2019
Details of new bell schedule not yet finalized
The Park City Board of Education says changes to school start times are coming for the 2018-2019 school year, but parents will have to wait to see what the new bell schedules will look like.
At a public meeting last week, the school board voted unanimously on the timing to implement the change, as well as one other new development: The district will transition to a two-tier schedule, rather than the three-tier model currently in place. That means each of the district’s seven schools will start at one of two times. Currently, the first bell at Park City High School and Treasure Mountain Junior High School rings around 7:30 a.m., Ecker Hill Middle School begins at 8:50 a.m. and the elementary schools start at about 8:15 a.m.
The development comes after school officials commissioned a survey to get feedback from parents and community members about the prospect of changing start times. The results indicated that a majority — 58 percent — of respondents were in favor of new bell schedules.
However, there was no consensus on a specific schedule the district should use. None of the three options included in the survey — which all had one block of schools starting around 7:50 a.m., another beginning at about 8:40 a.m. and a third starting around 9:30 a.m. — garnered support from more than 42 percent of participants.
Board member Andrew Caplan said that made it obvious moving to a two-tiered system would be a more palatable option.
“It’s either move to two bells and allow our older students to start later, which is an interest that is pretty clear from a large part of our community — and there’s a lot of medical science supporting it — or just leave it as is,” he said.
But even with a two-bell structure, determining timing is proving difficult. The school board initially wanted to move back the high school to begin around 8:30 a.m., but the results of a study exploring the feasibility of changing start times indicated that would flood the roads with school traffic in the middle of the morning rush hour.
The school board acknowledged last week that 8:30 a.m. may not be a possibility and pledged to continue working with city and county officials to find ways to minimize the traffic impacts. Options the district will explore include lobbying to have a high-occupancy vehicle lane added to S.R. 248 and making students park offsite and shuttling them to the high school.
“A two-bell time gives us a little more flexibility in trying to find that right start time that either doesn’t impact traffic any more than we already have,” said Todd Hauber, the district’s business administrator. “Or we start to look for other solutions to find something that can work so that start time can move to a more appropriate time.”
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A Parkite who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 13 is giving scholarships and internships to three first-generation graduates from PCHS.