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Bellingham schools may add 30 minutes to school days

Kids walk to class at the new Birchwood Elementary School opening for the first day of class Tuesday morning, Sept. 2, 2014 in Bellingham. About 300 kids will attend the school.
Kids walk to class at the new Birchwood Elementary School opening for the first day of class Tuesday morning, Sept. 2, 2014 in Bellingham. About 300 kids will attend the school. The Bellingham Herald

The Bellingham School District is asking for community input about potentially adding 30 minutes to school days at middle and high schools starting with the 2016-17 school year.

The district has proposed starting middle school 15 minutes earlier and ending 15 minutes later each day. High school would start 30 minutes later - at 8:15 a.m. - and end at 3:15 p.m., an hour later than the current time. These changes would extend each school day to 7 hours from the current 6 1/2 hours.

Elementary schools would begin at 7:45 a.m. in 2016-17 instead of the current start time of 8:30 a.m., and the days would remain 6 1/2 hours long initially.

The extended days for secondary schools would help students meet the state’s 24-credit graduation requirement beginning with the class of 2019.

The school district changed schedules for middle schools and elementary schools in 2011. Prior to that year, middle schools started at 8:30 a.m. instead of 9:15 a.m., and elementary schools started at 9:30 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m.

For more information on the proposal, watch an informational video or read an online brochure, which can both be found on the district’s website, bellinghamschools.org.

To give feedback on the proposal, parents and community members can visit the district website to take an online survey by March 9 or comment on Superintendent Greg Baker’s blog.

The proposed high school start and end times were corrected March 5, 2015.

Parent opinions sought

The Bellingham Herald will be doing a more in-depth look at the proposed changes to school start times and extension of the school day. Reporter Wilson Criscione is looking for parents to interview for that article. Please contact him at 360-756-2803 or wilson.criscione@bellinghamherald.com if you are interested in sharing your views.

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