Start Time Task Force

This committee is inactive

The Start Time Task Force completed their work in June 2017. The following is an archive.


Between May 2015 and April 2016, the Start Time Task Force (STTF) worked to identify the best options to meet the directive of Resolution 714, which mandated a high school start time no earlier than 8 a.m. by the 2017-18 school year. (This resolution was amended at the Nov. 22, 2016, School Board meeting.)

On May 2016, the STTF surveyed the community with the top three options they had identified. The results from the survey were communicated to the board in a memo on June 17, 2016, and in a study session on August 23, 2016. The School Board reviewed the survey results, heard community feedback through public comments and emails, asked follow-up questions and discussed possible pathways forward across the next several board meetings and study sessions.

On Oct. 24, 2016, the board requested a recommendation from the STTF about their preference for either a 25-minute roll from current start times or a modified version of Option B. The STTF recommended a 25-minute roll for implementation in the 2017-18 academic year. The School Board heard the STTF recommendation at the Oct. 25 board meeting and held a first reading of the recommendation on Nov. 8. A second reading was held on Nov. 22, leading to a 4-1 vote to approve the recommendation.


Start Time Research



The task force is responsible for facilitating and implementing Northshore School District Board Resolution 714 including:

  • Intermediate steps that may provide some relief to current high school start times earlier than the 2017-18 school year;
  • A high school start time of no earlier than 8 a.m. by the 2017-18 school year in conjunction with the opening of North Creek High School, grade reconfiguration and associated boundary adjustments;
  • A high school start time of no earlier than 8 a.m. by the 2017-18 school year as the primary driver of program and service levels that determine the district transportation system as plans are developed and implemented around the opening of North Creek High School, grade reconfiguration and associated boundary adjustments; and
  • Adherence to start/dismissal time, program/service levels and fiscal parameters established by and/or acceptable to the School Board.


Start Times


Timeline & Meetings

The timelines below summarize key events in the review of start times since 2008. The timeline displayed on this page shows key events in this academic year. For events from prior academic years, please scroll down and select the academic year of interest to review the associated timeline. Links under "Associated Materials" will provide access to reports, presentations and more associated with this topic over time and will be updated as continuing progress occurs.




Associated Materials

 July 2016 New Superintendent Joined District Dr. Michelle Reid joined Northshore School District as its new Superintendent.  
August 4, 2016 Report Describing STTF Process and Cost Estimation Delivered to Board  In response to the June 28th request, a report was provided to the Board which described the process through which the STTF arrived at which three options would be surveyed to the community. The report also provided further information about the cost estimates provided.
August 22, 2016 STTF Steering Committee Meeting The steering committee reviewed materials and provided guidance in preparation for the School Board meeting.  N/A
August 23, 2016 School Board Study Session: Board Reviewed Progress to Date The School Board viewed a presentation of the STTF's recommendations for how to meet the directive of Resolution 714. The Board requested further details on the cost analysis performed to provide estimates of the options presented. The Board also requested an economist's analysis of what rate bus drivers would need to be paid in order to attract enough drivers to fulfill a three-tier option.
August 29, 2016 STTF Meeting: Next Steps Planned The STTF reviewed the presentation from the August 23rd Study Session and discussed items requested by the Board as next steps (described above in 8/23 entry).
September 13, 2016 School Board Meeting: Public Comments on Start Time Changes; Board Members Discuss Start Times Two community members expressed concern about potential start time changes proposed during the public comments of the School Board meeting. School Board members discussed start time changes. Video

Board Meeting Minutes (visit link, select fiscal year 2016-2017, choose the document for 09/13/2016 School Board Meeting)

September 27, 2016 School Board Study Session: Questions from the Board Addressed Specific Board member questions, shared at the 8/23 Board Meeting and via email, were addressed at the Study Session. The specific items addressed included: 1) clarity around cost estimate process of 3 options recommended by task force, 2) cost estimates for a three-tier option, 3) an economist's review of bus driver hourly rates, 4) a comparison of the NSD transportation system to that of Evergreen School District, and 5) a summary of Bellevue School District's School Pool program.
October 10, 2016 STTF Meeting: Follow Up on 9/27 Board Study Session & Meeting The STTF reviewed the Board Study Session and Meeting from 9/27 and discussed possible next steps for the coming school year. Progress on start time changes in other districts were also reviewed. Dr. Michelle Reid joined the meeting.
October 11, 2016 School Board Study Session: Possible Next Steps & Timelines Discussed; School Board Meeting: Public Comments Made About Start Time Changes The Board held a Study Session to discuss their thoughts on possible next steps and timelines related to start time changes. Three public comments were made during the Board Meeting related to concerns about three-tier models.
October 24, 2016 STTF Meeting: Discussed Recommendation to Board on Start Time Changes The STTF were asked by the Board to make a recommendation on start time changes for the 2017-18 school year. The Board directed the task force to assess whether a 25-minute roll from current start times or an adjusted version of Option B would be preferable. The task force unanimously voted to recommend a 25-minute roll forward in start times. Dr. Michelle Reid joined the meeting.
October 25, 2016 School Board Meeting: Public Comments On Start Time Changes Made; STTF Recommendation Reported to Board Public comments were made at the Board meeting with concerns about start time changes. Dr. Reid described the STTF's recommendation to the Board. The Board agreed to discuss start time changes at the following meeting.
November 8, 2016 School Board Meeting: Public Comments on Start Time Changes Made; First Reading of Start Time Recommendation Held Public comments were made at the Board meeting with concerns about start time changes. The Board discussed their thoughts on the first reading of a 25-minute roll of start times for the 2017-18 school year. A formal memo outlining the STTF recommendation was shared.
November 22, 2016 School Board Meeting: 25-Minute Roll for 2017-18 Approved; Resolution 714 Amended Public comments were made at the Board meeting about start time changes. The Board discussed their thoughts on the second reading of a 25-minute roll. The School Board amended Resolution 714 and approved a 25-minute roll of start times for 2017-18. The Superintendent sent an announcement to all NSD staff and families that evening describing the decision. An update was also posted to the NSD website.
November 30, 2016 Upcoming Changes Communicated in District Newsletter Information about the 25-minute roll for 2017-18 was shared with the community through the electronic NSD Connections newsletter. NSD Connections Newsletter
March 17, 2017 Site-by-Site Bell Times for 2017-18 Announced The district posted 2017-18 bell times on the NSD website.  
June 13, 2017 School Board Meeting: Public Comments Made Regarding Late Start Times  A public comment was made at the School Board meeting regarding concerns about daycare options and the late start time for elementary students.



Task Force Membership

There are 21 people, excluding the facilitator and ex-officio participants, on the task force, which includes representation from parents, district staff, one student and a community member. The parent/community member positions are voluntary, appointed by the School Board.


Frequently Asked Questions

What time will my child’s school start in 2017-18?
On November 22, 2016, the School Board approved a plan to roll start and end times forward by 25 minutes for the 2017-18 school year. On March 17, 2017, the district posted site-by-site bell times. See the Current Status page for details.

Why are start times changing in 2017-18?
The School Board passed Resolution 714 on January 27, 2015, stating that no high school in Northshore School District (NSD) shall start before 8 a.m. by the 2017-18 school year. The Start Times Task Force (STTF) was directed to oversee the options for how this directive can be implemented. On November 22, 2016, the School Board revised Resolution 714 in order to allow high school to start at 7:45 a.m. or later and approved a recommendation to move start times forward 25 minutes. Visit our main page to learn more and view the start times that will take effect in 2017-18.

The School Board has been discussing start time changes as a result of external research demonstrating the positive impact of a later start time for high school students. For a full timeline of events leading up to the November 22nd vote, see the Timeline. For external research on the impact of a later start time for high school students, visit this page.

How long has a change in start times been considered?
Since 2008, the School Board has engaged with the community and Parent Advocates for a Later Start (PALS) to discuss options for changing school start times. You can view a full timeline of all events and associated materials to better understand what steps have been taken and the process through which the change in start time will be determined.

Will elementary schools keep the same early or late classification next year? (In other words, will early elementary schools stay early elementary schools?)

The bell times advertised on the Current Status page do not represent any significant changes in which elementary schools start late and which start early.

How much does NSD spend on transportation each year?
In 2014-15, the district spent approximately $7.2M on transportation. This number is projected to be $7.3M for 2015-16. If no change in start time occurred, the anticipated operating costs for 2017-18 would be $8.2M (used as the baseline cost comparison for evaluating all start time change options).

How much will changing start times cost?
The exact cost to change start times is unknown. One option that was considered but not selected was Option A, a 40-minute roll. Costs of the 25-minute roll can be expected to be similar to this model; cost estimates of Option A projected an increase in annual operating costs (2017-18 budget cycle estimate) by $308,000. Additionally, the model required capital investments totaling $960,000.* To date, hundreds of administrative hours and approximately 1,000 volunteer hours have been spent evaluating the options for implementation. Additionally, the district has hired several outside consultants to perform surveys, prepare reports, and assist with the analysis.

What will be the impacts on before and after school activities (sports, music, robotics club, etc.)?
The impact on before and after school activities will be assessed by NSD and the STTF over the coming months. The district and task force will work collaboratively and proactively to continue supporting the high quality programs available to our students. Updated information on this topic will be shared with the community as soon as it is available.

How has the community been able to provide input on the change in start times?
Since 2011, several surveys have been conducted in an attempt to gauge the public's interest in and feedback on changing start times. Additionally, community input was gathered at four open houses in spring 2016. The membership of the task force includes individuals who work within schools at all levels and at the district office, parents, one non-parent community member, and a student. All task force meetings and School Board meetings are open to the public; if you would like to make a public comment, please feel free to attend. You can find the task force meeting schedule here and the School Board meeting schedule here. You can also email the School Board directly. The School Board has heard from many engaged community members via email, phone and public comment throughout the process.

If NSD legally required to provide transportation for all students?
By Washington State law, NSD is legally required to provide transportation for special education and homeless students. All other transportation services provided by the district are not legally required. However, if the district elects to provide service to any student who is not homeless or in special education, then it must provide transportation for all students at that school level. (In other words, if the district provides transportation for one elementary student who is not homeless or in special education, then it must provide transportation for all elementary students.) In 2014-15, NSD had 19,000 students eligible (i.e., not within safe walking distance) to receive transportation to their home school. Of those, 9,000 students rode the bus to school. You may view Washington's RCWs and WACs associated with student transportation for more information.

What is the four-tiered bus system?
The four-tiered system at NSD refers to the current structure of the transportation system. Students are grouped into four tiers by school level (early elementary, late elementary, junior high, and high school). Each tier or group of students has a different start and end time, creating a staggered schedule. For a more in-depth look at the transportation system at NSD, see this presentation shared with the STTF.

Why does NSD use the four-tiered bus system?
By having a tiered bus system, a single bus and driver can cover routes in three or four of the tiers in both the morning and afternoon. This maximizes efficiencies by limiting the number of bus drivers and buses necessary to provide transportation. If a tier or multiple tiers within the system were eliminated, it would require NSD to invest heavily in transportation (purchase more buses, secure additional parking space, provide repair/maintenance work). Additionally, eliminating a tier or multiple tiers would require hiring many additional bus drivers.

Why doesn’t NSD just buy more buses?
At an average initial cost of $90,000 (for B-type buses) and $140,000 (for T-type buses), the acquisition of a significant number of additional buses is a resource-intensive proposition. Additionally, an increased fleet would incur greater maintenance, repair and replacement costs and require capital investment to expand the parking area for buses. Since transportation is paid out of the general fund, any increase in spending on transportation results in fewer dollars available for instructional purposes.

Perhaps even more problematic than the cost of expanding the bus fleet is the difficulty in finding additional qualified bus drivers. Even without expanding current need, hiring and retaining school bus drivers is a challenge. There are school bus driver shortages around the state and across the country. One benefit of NSD’s four-tiered system is that it reduces the number of bus drivers needed. Additionally, the tiers create working hours closer to a full-time schedule, making employment more attractive and feasible for applicants. The STTF reviewed bus driver hiring and retention at NSD in the second section of this presentation.

The STTF investigated several different scenarios that evaluated moving to a three-tiered system by expanding the bus fleet and hiring more drivers. One example of the options evaluated required adding 50 buses. The projected annual operating cost of this system would be $12.4M (representing a $4.4M increase over the baseline). Additionally, the increase in buses would require capital investment totaling $4.5M. These significant costs stand in contrast to the top three options identified in the survey to the community. Each surveyed option would require capital investments less than $1M and additional operating costs of no more than $400K (see costs of options surveyed). The Board may choose to continue discussions about three-tier options for future years.

Why can’t all schools start at 8 a.m.?
All schools could start at 8 a.m. However, this would require eliminating the four-tier system and would require significant transportation investment to expand the bus fleet and attract more bus drivers. The STTF reviewed options that reduced the tiered system, but none of these proposals moved forward to the final round of considerations.

Why can’t all schools start after 8 a.m.?
Some of the options evaluated by the STTF included all schools starting after 8 a.m. The School Board ultimately did not select one of these options to move forward in 2017-18. One concern with models that shifted start times forward past 8 a.m. related to the paired shift of end times. One method of lessening the impact of later start times on later end times may be in considering a three-tier model for future years. A three-tier model for 2017-18 was considered by the School Board but did not move forward due to logistical and cost concerns.

Why can’t students from different school levels (elementary, junior high, high school) ride the same bus, similar to Issaquah School District?
The locations of junior high and high schools throughout NSD do not facilitate the sharing of buses between junior high and high school students. The STTF evaluated having the high school and elementary students share buses. This scenario required moving from the current four-tier model to a three-tier model. In this scenario, the district would need to purchase an additional 20 buses at a cost of $2.8M, and there would be an anticipated annual operating cost of $11M (representing a $3M increase over baseline).

Has the task force looked at what other school districts are doing with regard to start times?
The task force reviewed other school districts' start time changes at their meeting on August 24, 2015, and have continued to follow media coverage of these efforts. The school districts reviewed and associated media can be viewed here. Lessons learned from these external examples were considered throughout the process of developing the options for NSD's change in start times.

The resolution passed in 2015; why isn't NSD implementing start time changes until 2017-18?
In order to engage the community and ensure smooth implementation, NSD has worked closely with the STTF to gather community input and carefully assess the systemic impacts of the start time change. (See the Timeline for a full list of events and associated materials). The intent of the time gap between the resolution (2015) and year of implementation (2017-18) is to allow time for critical planning to support the success of the change. Over the course of more than a year, the task force (collectively volunteering about 1,000 hours) gathered community input and discussed the myriad options that should be considered for meeting the mandate. District staff collaborated with the STTF to assess the options by providing in-depth, systems-impact analysis and costing information. Now that the School Board has determined how they would like to proceed, the school district (transportation department, school-based staff, etc.) will need time to plan the logistics of how they will accommodate the change.

The resolution said high school needed to start after 8 a.m. Why doesn’t the plan meet that guideline?
The School Board amended their resolution on November 22, 2016, to allow for an adjustment to the original parameter for start time changes. This amendment allowed more flexibility to shift closer to recommended late start times for adolescents while aiming to mitigate the impact of later school end times.

*This cost is due to growth within the district.