APS Deliberates On New Bell Schedule

Celeste Wetmore, Staff Reporter

With input from staff, parents and students, Arlington Public Schools (APS) has begun a project of reviewing and revising bell schedules in order to maximize learning time and make the school day more efficient.

Currently, there are eight different start and end times across all APS schools. In time for the 2022-2023 school year, APS would like to whittle that number down to four. The project kicked off in early January and will culminate with a final report delivered to the School Board no later than May 12, 2022.  

Many proposals add 10-15 minutes to the school day; the most drastic shift would feature a starting time of 8:40 and a final bell at 3:35.

The possible changes have sparked conversation among students who weigh the pros and cons of later start and end times.  

“It would be confusing to students to change the bell schedule, and it would be very difficult to coordinate club and school sports,” junior Talia Agrillo said.

With athletes from varying school districts, club sport practices often conflict with those of school sports. A new school end time would shorten the afternoon, therefore narrowing the window of time for sport. This situation causes concern among student athletes.

APS has been gathering feedback on the decision from a committee labeled as a technical advisory team (TAT). 

This committee has been collaborating on the project with Transpar, a school transportation consulting firm. Transpar has offered guidance as the TAT deliberates schedule options and how to incorporate the community’s opinions into the decision.

The TAT is formed by internal and external parties, including transportation staff, school-based administrators and representatives from our school’s parent-teacher association (PTA).

Limiting the variety of schedules will allow APS to optimize transportation services.

“They’re looking to reduce the amount of bus runs so that they can more efficiently transport people to and from school,” our school’s principal, Kevin Clark, said.

The streamlining will also offer more buffer for inclement weather days. This year, students lost instruction time due to days off. If each class goes on for 10 more minutes, it will allow for more days off without the concern of having to transition into virtual school. 

“It would be much easier for me to learn in person and have the advantage of a classroom environment,” junior Sarah Finkel said.

Adjustments of this type would also align APS with the schedules of surrounding school districts.

“APS will conduct a comparative analysis of instructional minutes in the school day across school divisions and recommend changes where needed,” an APS statement said.

Within the month, the TAT will make a decision regarding the bell schedules.