On January 17, the Thompson School District Board of Education approved an adjustment to start and release times, as well as a one-hour late start on Wednesdays, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. A district task force will now work on a variety of items to help ensure a smooth transition, including a start and release time for our K-8 students. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.
For more information on these changes, please see the letter below from Board President Lori Hvizda Ward.
TSD Public Information Officer
As a mom, I’ve always wanted the best for my children. In my work on the Board of Education, I want the best for all 16,000 children in Thompson schools. Recently, the Board has made two important and exciting decisions that will bring positive changes for our students.
Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, middle school and high school students will start their day later and elementary students will start a bit earlier. Here is a summary of the tentative start and end times:
Elementary Schools: 8:00 am – 3:10 pm
High Schools: 8:30 am – 3:50 pm
Middle Schools: 8:45 am – 4 pm
Districts around the state and across the country have been moving in this direction for several years with positive results. The Centers for Disease Control, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend that secondary students start school no earlier than 8:30 AM, citing a variety of benefits to student health and learning, including:
-Increased attendance rates
-Increase in GPA
-Increase in state test scores
-Increase in student attention
-Increase in quality of student-family interaction
-Decrease in disciplinary action
-Decrease in student-involved car accidents
-Decrease in student sleeping during instruction
(Source: “Later School Start Times Promote Adolescent Well-Being.” American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/school-start-times.pdf.)
In addition, our own survey in November 2017, which obtained approximately 4,000 responses from students, parents, employees and community members, showed anywhere from 56% to 71% support for these bell schedule changes. After studying the expert research, reviewing results from other school districts and hearing from our own community, I was easily convinced that this change would be best for our students.
Another difference in the school calendar for 2018-2019 is the addition of a one-hour late start every Wednesday morning to allow time for educators to collaborate in their planning and professional growth opportunities. Teacher quality is the most important influence on student learning and the Board heard from both the Calendar Committee Task Force and the Recruit and Retain Task Force that providing educators a regular and consistent time to collaborate improves their teaching practice. This new calendar will add four more school days for students, as the previous practice of full days off for teacher professional development is being replaced by the Wednesday one-hour late start.
As with any change, these new schedules will take a little getting used to. Thompson School District and the Board of Education are challenged to make improvements to student learning, yet we are limited by the reality of budget constraints. These two approaches are especially appealing to me because they allow us to make meaningful change at very little financial cost. I am proud of the Board for its commitment to be a careful steward of your tax dollars, while also moving forward with promising innovations that are best for kids.
As always, we appreciate your continued support.
Lori Hvizda Ward
Thompson School District Board of Education