Mounds View schools review parameters on start times

The Mounds View School Board reviewed information on changing start times at the Feb. 21 meeting. The board had decided to postpone an official decision after receiving a wide-variety of feedback from community members. Two particular areas of concern included after school activity programs and lack of start time options for grade schools.

The Mounds View School Board is considering transportation efficiency as an important factor for changing start times. It is important to look at traffic patterns and size of attendance areas when deciding on bus routes.
The Mounds View School Board is considering transportation efficiency as an important factor for changing start times. It is important to look at traffic patterns and size of attendance areas when deciding on bus routes.

High School Activities Directors Ron Broberg and Robert Madison presented information to the board relating to athletics and arts facilities issues.
Madison said it is difficult to separate facilities from start times.

“Every time we’ve talked about a start time, there’s a facility question that tends to pop up, who’s going to go where,” Madison said. “There are complexities within each activity and each building.”

He also mentioned that the later high school facilities for athletics and arts programs, the more it will impact community education usage.

The directors showed snapshots of after school activities on a given day of both current and a potential scenario. Madison said that no sponsored activities will be eliminated, and all activities will end by 10 p.m.

Thomas Watson of Watson Consulting Group has a long history with the district and has worked on many contract negotiations regarding transportation and start times. Watson was brought in to analyze start time scenarios and help with the decision-making process.

Watson said from a transportation standpoint, the biggest issue facing the district is Highway 96. With peak p.m. travel times expanding and busy freeways, Watson said it could be difficult to move students from the high schools, located on the western side, to the east side of the district.

Watson suggested looking at traffic conditions to modify some start times. Although the board desired criteria of starting each school level at the same start time tier, it could be beneficial to analyze bus routes that would work best in regard to traffic patterns and size of attendance areas.

Watson suggested creating a fourth scenario which would allow variance in start time slots, taking roads and geographic locations into consideration.

With a total of 33 buses in the district, Watson said the district is averaging 3.1 runs per bus; a run being one group of students going to one building. He suggested utilizing kindergarten buses that pick up in lesser attendance areas to go for an additional run for a different start time tier.

Watson also suggested to look at the fourth scenario in two versions: the first with enrollment for the coming year and the other for the higher projected enrollment in the next four years.

“The commitment to your contractor, this would no doubt entail a brand new agreement,” Watson said. “Because it’s a different demand, and a different supply.”

A decision is expected to be made this spring. Implementation of new start times will go into effect in fall 2018, rather than fall 2017 as previously expected. The community can keep up with updates from the district at www.moundsviewschools.org/starttimes.

Contact Sarah Burghardt at [email protected]