Board Approves Implementation Plan

At the January 19, 2016 regular board meeting, the school board approved the Implementation Plan, changing the high school start times for the 2016-17 school year.

At the October 6, 2015 regular board meeting, the school board directed the district to move to a later high school start time. The goal is to move high school start times to 8:30 a.m. subject to an implementation plan to be approved by the Board that includes a feasibility study at each high school and across the district.

Download the Implementation PlanDownload Final Report


Eva Collins
Deputy Superintendent

The superintendents of the Mercer Island and Bellevue School Districts have charged the High School Start-Time Committee with conducting a study of the benefits and implications of changing high school start times.

The committee’s membership includes parents and staff members from both school districts in a collaborative feasibility study and in the development of recommendations to the superintendents by June, 2015 for potential implementation in the 2016-17 school year.

The committee read and discussed research on adolescent sleep patterns and the impact of chronic sleep loss.  The committee also reviewed a report that summarized the experiences from more than 1,000 schools that moved to a later start time.  The following are some findings from the research and reports

Committee Process and Timeline

PHASE I:  December 2014 through February 2015

  • Develop study processes
  • Gather research findings
  • Identify stakeholder groups
  • Determine feasibility considerations

PHASE II:  March & April 2015

  • Plan stakeholder outreach events
  • Make committee member assignments
  • Design survey instruments
  • Gather and record input

PHASE III:  May & June 2015

  • Review and evaluate all information gathered
  • Formulate feasibility recommendations
  • Prepare impact assessments
  • Present study findings and recommendations (for 2016-17 implementation, if changes recommended)

Current Schedule and Transportation

School Start Dismiss Wed. Dismiss M,T,Th,F
Bellevue 7:30 12:30 2:30
Interlake 7:30 12:30 2:30
Newport 7:30 12:30 2:30
Sammamish 7:30 12:15 2:30
Big Picture 7:45 12:45 2:50
International 7:40 12:45 2:35

Bellevue School District high school students use Metro Transit services for transportation to and from school.

Potential Benefits of Later Start Times Include:

  • Improved attendance rates
  • Reduced tardiness rates
  • Improved grades in school
  • Higher state and national test scores
  • Improved motivation and alertness
  • Improved overall health
  • Decline in (self-reported) depression, caffeine use, and substance use
  • Decline in motor vehicle crashes

Potential Challenges of Later Start Times Include:

  • Impact traffic flow
  • Affect after school sports and other extracurricular activities
  • Disrupt the work schedules of parents, teachers, administrators, and staff
  • Disrupt family schedules and routines
  • Put some families in situations in which they have to arrange for before or after school childcare (in some families older siblings might no longer be available to look after younger siblings after school)
  • Have an effect on student employment as students may have fewer hours to work

Research on Adolescent Sleep Patterns

  • Contrary to popular belief, teenagers cannot just force themselves to go to bed earlier
  • Based on biological processes, teens fall asleep later at night and wake up later in the morning
  • Adolescents need at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night (ideally between 9 to 9 ½ hours)
  • Most teens are not getting the sleep they need, and many experience daytime sleepiness

Effects of Chronic Sleep Loss Among Adolescents Include:

  • Reduced academic performance
  • Impairments in attention and memory
  • Decreased motivation and weakening of goal-setting behaviors
  • Decline in cognitive and abstract reasoning abilities
  • Difficulty controlling mood, impulses, and behavior
  • Higher levels of anxiety and increased vulnerability to stress
  • Increased risk of obesity and overweight
  • Increased risk of suicide and thoughts of suicide
  • Increased risk for depression
  • Higher levels of risk taking behavior (such as substance abuse)
  • Higher rates of caffeine consumption and use of stimulant medications
  • Higher risk of sports-related injuries
The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.