Alarm clocks will be going off all over Eden Prairie in less than four weeks. At that time, households will begin adjusting to new school start times.
The bottom line: when school starts Sept. 8, Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) and Central Middle School (CMS) students will be starting later in the morning.
Eden Prairie elementary students will start earlier.
In January 2021, Superintendent Josh Swanson made the final decision on the time changes. The decision was made in consultation with a community task force, the school board, and recommendations from other district staff, while considering public input and expert opinion.
EPHS will start 45 minutes later and CMS will start 1 hour and 45 minutes later during the 2021-22 school year than in the current school year.
Conversely, elementary school students will start school earlier.
Here are start and end times for all Eden Prairie Schools for the 2021-22 school year:
|Eden Prairie High School||8:35-3:20|
|Central Middle School||9:25-4:07|
Swanson told the school board in January that alignment with the task force’s recommendations, operational and transportation logistics, and financial responsibility were the primary issues considered in making the final decision.
A team of district experts considered more than 100 configurations, which eventually led to the original task force recommendation, Swanson said at that time.
The change adds 10 minutes to the elementary school day and 15 minutes to the middle school day, Swanson said. It also supports more choice for CMS students, which is part of the Designing Pathways initiative. The new schedule roughly aligns with other Lake Conference schools.
Acknowledging that the schedule change will result in some difficult adjustments on the part of students, families and staff, Swanson said he was the decision was the correct one.
“I truly believe at this point, as we think about … the health and safety of our kids, as we think about what a good long-term solution is, that aligns us with best practices and the research on health and safety, that this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it,” he said.
The Start and End Time Task Force consisting of parents, staff, community members and administrators completed its report in the fall of 2020. It recommended that Swanson explore options for adjusting start times based on current research.
More than 400 comments were received from the community since proposed start times were announced in December 2020. Respondents’ comments ranged from concerns about early bus pick-ups to the gap between EPHS and CMS start times.
The task force considered a three-year study conducted by the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota that concluded that high schools starting at 8:30 a.m. or later allow for more than 60 percent of students to get at least eight hours of sleep on school nights.
Teens getting less than eight hours of sleep experienced significantly higher levels of depression, greater use of caffeine, and are at greater risk of substance use, the report said.
Additionally, academic performance showed significant improvements with start times of 8:35 a.m. or later. Car crashes involving drivers 16 to 18 years old was reduced by 70 percent when start times shifted from 7:35 a.m. to 8:55 a.m., the report concluded.
Results of a survey of Eden Prairie parents in December 2019 indicated that 70 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with a later start time for the high school. The change more closely aligns Eden Prairie High School days with most other Lake Conference schools.
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