CDSBEO: No timeline for school start time switch decision

KEMPTVILLE – A proposal to flip the start times of elementary and secondary schools in the region’s English-language schools is unlikely to occur before the start of the 2025-26 school year.

The proposal by the Upper Canada District School Board has not yet been approved by that board. Its transportation consortium partner, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, has also not yet approved the move.

In early 2023, UCDSB trustees passed a motion to examine and consult on the proposal which would see elementary school students begin their day at around 8 a.m. Secondary students would begin later in the morning, at around 9:30 a.m.

UCDSB officials have cited a number of scientific studies on the effects of sleep quality on teenagers as one of the main reasons to propose the switch.

The English-Public board has consulted various stakeholders, surveyed students, and held two public meetings about the proposed changes. Feedback from UCDSB families has been mixed with concerns voiced about the proposed changes. These include hours available for student jobs after school, and daycare concerns for younger students.

For the proposal to move forward, the board needs the CDSBEO to agree. The two school boards are co-owners of the transportation consortium, Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario.

The two boards harmonized their start times between 2019 and 2021. Bus and school start times are staggered to allow for better use of resources.

CDSBEO spokesperson Amber LaBerge told The Leader that its consultation is ongoing.

“The CDSBEO continues to gather information and data related to school bell times and is engaging in an ongoing consultation process,” said LaBerge. “To date, the Board of Trustees has received information on the impacts of bell time changes on extra-curricular activities, before and after school care and daycare programs, after school jobs, Dual Credit programs with colleges, co-operative education hours, and sleep data.”

She continued that, “All aspects of this data are currently being considered before a decision can be made.”

Asked if there is a timeline for a final decision by the board, LaBerge replied, “A timeline has not been set for a final decision.”

Even if the proposed start time switch is approved by both boards before the end of the 2023-24 school year in June, families should not expect an immediate change for the next school year.

UCDSB Trustee David McDonald said at the January 17 trustee board meeting that STEO officials were only waiting for directions from the two boards.

However, a school board source said that any changes, if approved, will take nearly an entire school year to prepare for before going into effect. The two boards have a combined enrolment of over 41,000 students across 118 schools in four counties.

The Leader is not naming the confidential source as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

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