The following are frequently asked questions about what Des Moines Public Schools is considering a change in school hours, and what this would mean for students, parents and staff.

Please check back as this page will be updated as new questions are raised.

Q: Why is Des Moines Public Schools considering a change to school hours?

A: Research clearly supports the academic and heath benefits that result from school schedules that align with student sleep cycles. This proposal supports our mission. Be sure to visit the background/research page for articles by medical and education experts on this issue.

Q: What will be the new school and staff hours?

  Elementary School Middle School High School
Office Hours 7:15 AM-3:15 PM 8:00 AM-4:00 PM 8:00 AM-4:00 PM
School Hours 7:30 AM-2:25 PM 8:30 AM-3:25 PM 8:25 AM-3:25 PM
Staff Hours (approx.) 7:15 AM-3:00 PM 8:00 AM-3:45 PM 8:00 AM-3:45 PM
Early Adjusted Dismissal 12:55 PM 1:55 PM 1:55 PM

Q: When would this change be implemented?

A: If the School Board and school district administrators decide to move forward with this change, it would most likely be implemented for the 2018-19 school year.

Q:  Will there be any additional costs incurred by changing the school hours?

A:  No, the change would be cost neutral to the school district. 

Q: How does the proposal impact Metro Kids before and after school programming?

A: Metro Kids programming will change in response to the changing needs of families. Overall, there will be expanded Metro Kids programming as a result of this bell times change.

Q: How would the proposal impact before and after school care by siblings?

A: Because of the later start for middle and high school students, they could provide morning care but would not be available for after school care until after their school is dismissed.

Q: During winter months elementary students may need to walk in some darkness to bus stops and school. Does this proposal take that into consideration?

A: We recognize that there are brief times during the year when some students walk in the dark to a bus stop. That can be the case under both the current and proposed hours. If students walk to school or a bus stop, we encourage parents to work with your child so that they follow a familiar path throughout the school year, and one that you feel is safe.

In addition, even during the shortest days of winter in Iowa, the brightest phase of twilight begins around 7:00 AM. Click here for a chart showing daylight hours in Des Moines throughout the year.

Q: What other districts have successfully implemented flipping of bell times?

A: Many districts and/or individual schools around the nation have made the change, with Ankeny, Iowa City and Seattle being a few recent examples.

Q: What are the school hours for surrounding school districts?

A: Ankeny is the only surrounding district similar to our proposed school times. Please visit the background/research page for a list of school hours at all of our neighboring districts.

Q: Cowles Montessori School has students in both elementary and middle school grades. Which schedule would be used there?

A: Cowles would follow the elementary school hours.

Q: How will the district monitor the impact of the change?

A: District and schools will monitor tardies, absences, and first period grades. Several other health-related measures, with community partners, could provide additional information.

Q: How is the current proposal different than the proposal considered in 2006?

A: It is similar, in terms of flipping elementary and secondary school start times, but is different in that some of the logistical barriers then are not an issue now. Unlike 2006, this change, if implemented, would be cost neutral to the school district.

Q: How will change impact Central Campus and Central Academy?

A: While continuing to work with neighboring districts to provide regional options for students, Central Campus and Central Academy will move to a later start time to align with the secondary school schedule. Additionally, busses will run directly from each high school to our Agriculture, Horticulture, and Aviation Programs in order to maximize the student sleep benefits.

Q: How will open enrollment timeline impact opportunities for students?

A: The open enrollment timeline is set by the State and will not be impacted.

Q: Will parents, teachers, students, and community members be surveyed?

A: Yes. We will have a week-long surveying period beginning November 8. The online survey will be posted on this web site as well as distributed in our weekly e-newsletter and on our social media sites.

Q: How will breakfast for elementary students be improved?

A: Through a federally funded program called Breakfast in the Classroom, all elementary students will be served a free breakfast.