Family Engagement Survey - February 25 to March 24, 2020 - Learn More


Facilitator Dick Withycombe welcomed committee members and introduced Chief Finance/Operations Officer Dean Mack, who is taking Todd Kelsay’s place as the administrative representative for the Mercer Island School District.


Deputy Superintendent Eva Collins reviewed a summary of the Bellevue community survey results. The 11,500 respondents represented all district high schools and included students, parents, community members, and staff members. People submitted approximately 3,000 written comments, two-thirds of them in response to the question asking if there were anything else the committee should know.

Overall, there was strong support for a later high school start time. This was also true within all subgroups, although the level of support varied across subgroups. Students identified the most concerns, potential interference with sports and after school activities being the most common.


Mercer Island committee members met with Dick to finalize changes to their draft report and to plan their June 11 school board presentation.

The Bellevue team met with Eva to review the survey data and to formulate their recommendation. They also reviewed information provided by Scott Backus based on meetings with music teachers and with high school students serving as Camp Orkila counselors.

After some discussion, the Bellevue group agreed by consensus to recommend that the school district implement an 8:30 a.m. high school start time in the 2016-2017 school year. Their decision was based on the following rationale.

  • The research suggests that 8:30 a.m. is the earliest start time for realizing desired health benefits for students.
  • Research identifies 9:00 a.m. as the preferred start time; but the committee felt 8:30 a.m. would be more acceptable to the community at this point.
  • The community survey demonstrates a significant level of support for a later start time both overall and within each subgroup.
  • The district should evaluate the impact of the later start time after the first year.

The Bellevue committee members also agreed not to recommend specific schedule changes to implement the later start time, believing it would be best to leave these decisions to high school principals and staffs.

Eva will send them a draft of the final report in time for their review and comment before the June 23 board presentation.