COLORADO SPRINGS — Academy School District 20 parents say they are relieved after the district announced it would delay a plan to change new school start and end times. In the proposed plan, high school students and middle school students would start school later, while elementary school students would start earlier.
Lindsey Jensen is a parent of two D20 students at Discovery Canyon Elementary School. She also created an online petition which has gotten more than 2,200 signatures with concerns from other families in the district.
“It was going to force a lot of people to choose between working and pulling their kids out of the school district,” said Jensen.
She added that the proposed plan would also make it harder for parents to work full-time.
“So every two hours, someone will have had to have been at that school. It’s impossible to work with these times.”
Jensen was also at Thursday's school board meeting, along with other parents who voiced their concerns to district leaders about the changes.
“I would ask that the board not mistake costly before and after school care, care that parents haven't asked for,” said one parent. “Please reconsider the school start times, and I know there are creative solutions that we can come up with,” said another parent.
Friday's announcement of delaying the change in start and end times came less than 24 hours after the school board meeting.
The new times to take effect in the 2024-2025 school year are:
- Elementary School: 7:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
- Middle School: 8:50 a.m. - 3:55 p.m.*
- High School: 8:10 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
- *(Challenger Middle School (CMS): 8:20 a.m. - 3:25 p.m. CMS shares the Black Forest bus transportation with Pine Creek High School due to the density of riders from the Black Forest area.)
The district says that the 40-minute difference in start times allows for the time needed for bus routes.
“We heard from a number of parents that said, ‘we just wanted to be able to give you our feedback, and yet we felt like this was one time where we felt like we didn't get to have our voice heard,’” said Allison Cortez, the chief communication officer for the district.
Cortez said, district leaders know the proposed changes will impact all families, and they want to better understand those impacts.
“Ultimately what we realized is, we did not do a great job communicating. We really wanted to take a step back, we want to make sure the community understands why we did this, what we're proposing, and what this really means for everyone,” said Cortez.
In the online petition, Jensen also said if the changes take effect, families would have less time together, kids would have less time for sports and other extra curricular activities, and elementary school students would have less sleep. She also created a website explaining the changes and its impacts.
However, she said when the district announced they were delaying the change, she and other parents was grateful.
“We celebrated, we were immensely grateful to everybody that came out and spoke against it, but also really grateful that the school board listened,” said Jensen.
The district also said they'll have public conversations with parents in the upcoming weeks and months, to figure out solutions and how to move forward. They hope to announce their final plans in the fall.
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