MCS Seeks Input on School Start Time

MCS Seeks Family, Staff, Student Input on School Start Time Options: Final Decision Made by 2.1.19
Posted on 01/18/2019

School Start TimesOn January 14, Mason City Schools Superintendent Jonathan Cooper hosted a Special Edition CommUNITY Conversation about school start times, and their impact on learners’ mental health. Over 800 people attended the CommUNITY Conversation in person, or by tuning in while it streamed live on Mason City Schools’ Facebook Page. Mason High School HOPE Squad members and Mason MIddle School students shared perspectives about peers’ mental health, and school start times’ impact.


The district presented a plan that would push back Mason Middle School and Mason High School start times by 30 minutes - and asked for input on two start time options. Cooper shared that a final decision about the start times would be made by the end of January.


“Most everyone agrees that 8:00 am is an ideal school start time. However, we have a very efficient bus routing schedule and giving each school this slot would increase our district’s transportation costs by millions of dollars. There are also concerns about other issues that might be impacting teens’ sleep, as well as concerns about how big changes to school schedules will impact our elementary students, staff and families,” explained Cooper. “We’ve tried to take a very collaborative approach when considering later school school start times and while we might not solve everything, we are hopeful that the new times will be better than our current schedule.”

For several years, MMS and MHS students and families have expressed concerns about the current school start times that mean a 7:15am start time for Mason’s teens. Since last January, students, parents, staff, local government officials, private schools, daycares, and business leaders have provided feedback about various start time options. Students and staff shared input in surveys, and throughout the fall district leaders conducted focus groups with students, elementary staff, secondary staff, transportation staff, coaches, performing arts staff, athletic booster groups, performing arts booster groups, families with children with special needs, business partners, daycares, and private school leaders.

Brain research shows that implementing a later morning start time for middle and high school students benefits teens, whose sleep cycles shift around the time they enter puberty. Because of shared busing, proposals to change the secondary schools' start times also change elementary school schedules. Changing schedules also impact families' current childcare arrangements, and students' current extracurricular activity schedules.

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