Good afternoon, Silver Falls Families.

We’re writing today to give you some updates on the school bus and bell schedules for next year. The brief overview is this: we are recommending the school board take action to adjust school start and end times in the following ways:

All elementary and K-8 schools in the district other than Pratum and our two charter schools.Start time: 8:00 am
End time: 2:30 pm
Pratum K-8 SchoolStart time: 7:45 am
End time: 2:15 pm
Silverton Middle SchoolStart time: 8:45 am
End time: 3:35 pm
Silverton High SchoolStart time: 8:45 am
End time: 3:45 pm

Our reasons for this proposal are twofold. First, and most importantly, the body of research on student learning tells us that students in secondary grades (middle and high school) learn best with later start times. This is especially true for our high school students. For reading on this topic, see the articles below as representative samples of the research:

Our second reason relates to student transportation. As we’ve discussed throughout the past several months, we, along with much of the nation, are experiencing a shortage of school bus drivers. Changing bell schedules in this way provides us an opportunity to serve the same number of students with fewer drivers than we’d otherwise require, thus reducing the load on our transportation system.

We expect there are likely to be many questions about this change. We’ve done our best to answer some of those below. Additionally, we invite all interested parties to join us at the upcoming Board Work Session, to be held Monday the 28th at 7pm on Zoom (link here). This topic will be on the Board Agenda during that meeting, as well as on the July Board Meeting Agenda (scheduled for July 19th at 7pm, Zoom link not yet available), where opportunities for public comment on this and other topics will be available. We invite your feedback on these potential changes.

Questions & Answers

How will this impact middle and high school athletics?
Student athletes traveling to away contests may miss a larger portion of their final classes of the day, but as more and more districts around the state move to these later schedules we expect even that impact may be reduced. For home contests and practices, we expect there are situations where times will shift to accommodate these new schedules, and other times where shifts won’t be necessary.

How will this impact SHS students accepted to the Willamette Career Academy (WCA)?
We are working with WCA leadership to ensure student schedules are minimally impacted by this change. Bear in mind that students enrolled in WCA are mostly Juniors and Seniors who are otherwise eligible for other schedule changes such as early release – we will work with students and their families on an individual basis to ensure both WCA and SHS courses are accommodated.

How will this impact SHS zero-period (before school) classes?
This is still being discussed, but the most likely result is an appropriate time shift for those programs as well.

How will this affect bus schedules?
Different routes will change in different ways. We will release bus schedules in August in order to ensure parents and families have plenty of time to plan for any changes in routing or in pickup/dropoff times.

When will students be allowed on campus / how early can I drop them off in the morning?
This will vary by school, and will be communicated by each school closer to the start of next school year.

How will this impact students in special programs?
This will vary by program, and is still being discussed.