Education board OKs school start time draft regulation


The Nevada State Board of Education on Wednesday approved its draft regulation on school start times in all school districts and charter schools.

During its Aug. 2 meeting, board members agreed to develop a regulation placing guard rails on school districts’ high school start times to consider students’ needs and allow school operations to proceed without disruption. The board has been exploring its options for almost a year to determine how to help secondary students achieve success without compromising their health needs or extracurricular activities while still providing local control for school districts.

Board President Felicia Ortiz said the intention was to make changes for older students.

“Obviously, this is geared toward high school students,” Ortiz said. “We’re not going to ask this of families with kids in elementary schools.”

The proposed language recommends districts and charter schools conduct a survey. Surveys would gather feedback on start times currently in place and families’ preferred options for adjusting start times.

During the Aug. 2 meeting, members asked about a possible waiver process to help schools in the event a district might prevent them from changing their start times. The draft regulation addresses implementing a waiver system to help make changes in adjusting start times. Districts and charter schools would be required to submit waivers to the State Board of Education by Nov. 15 of each school year for the upcoming school year. Applications must demonstrate a “compelling need for non-compliance” and address challenges for implementation, after which the board would review the application.

The language states gradual implementation would be planned for the 2024-25 school year, and 25% of schools within each district and charter schools must provide alternative start time options. Each subsequent school year, an additional 25% of schools must begin implementing start time options until all schools are in compliance with the regulation or have received a waiver from the board.

Finally, the proposal seeks for reporting and evaluation from each school and charter school with start times before 8 a.m. to determine progress and to assess challenges in the transition on Nov. 15 of each school year. The regulation recommends the board hold evaluations on student outcomes, academic performance, attendance and student well-being.

The board received public input at the beginning of the board meeting on Wednesday in favor and opposed to the draft regulation from community members. Carson City School District Superintendent Andrew Feuling said a committee explored the issue from 2011 to 2014. He said that is when early research began coming out about changing start times.

“Instead of focusing on school start times, let’s focus on putting good people in positions across the state,” Feuling told the Appeal. “To me, that’s more bang for the buck. We have vacancy problems in Las Vegas, Elko, in Carson City. Let’s talk about what’s really going to make a difference in our schools on a daily basis.”

Eureka County School District Superintendent Tate Else warned of “unintended consequences” in the gradual implementation of change to later start times for schools where it might not be feasible in rural counties.

“I’m with my colleagues as superintendents,” Else said. “I don’t think we’re opposed with negative intentions in mind. I don’t think anybody’s opposed to the data or research.”

Student board member Michael Keyes of Las Vegas, representing the Nevada Association of Student Councils in consultation with the Nevada Youth Legislature, said he felt the regulation might be “too lenient.” He asked for a greater percent of schools be required to adjust their start times during the first year of implementation.

Board member and Nevada Association of School Boards member Mike Walker said any changes would impact students at the elementary levels as well as the older students.

“I don’t know a school district that isn’t struggling with vacancies,” Walker said. “We have bus drivers on routes transporting students to and from schools because they don’t have enough drivers to do special education routes. I’m concerned about safety.

“In Carson City, there are a number of students who are pushed back earlier because we have the high school starting later, and students are crossing the roads,” Walker said. “You can’t see the students on dim lit roads in the dark. … These are very complex issues that school districts and school boards with their superintendents should tackle together.”

The vote was unanimous.


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