Board OKs new start, dismissal times

By HANNAH JOHNSON – Stillwater Gazette

Schools across the St. Croix Valley will have new start and dismissal times next fall.

The Independent School District 834 Board approved a proposal Thursday night that eliminates seven district bus routes, dropping the number of routes from 71 to 64. School administrators said reducing bus routes should save the district almost $300,000 next school year in transportation costs.

The board reviewed the draft of proposed new start and dismissal times for next year at its March 22 meeting. Since then, the district posted the draft online to for feedback from parents and community members on the new three-tiered system.

No parents or community members spoke during the open forum.

The first tier includes the Stillwater Area High School, Stillwater and Oak-Land Junior highs and St. Croix Valley Alternative Learning Center. This tier’s new hours are 7:40 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. for SAHS and 7:50 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for SJHS and OLJR. These schools begin five to 10 minutes earlier than the previous schedule. The St. Croix Valley ALC starts five minutes later during its second start time of the day.

The second tier includes all ISD 834 elementary schools. These schools begin either at 8:40 a.m. or 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:10 p.m. or 3:15 p.m. In most schools, this is a change of 15 minutes or less, but some elementary schools will start as much as 40 minutes later (Andersen, Lily Lake) or 25 to 20 minutes earlier (Marine, Lake Elmo).

The final tier are non-ISD 834 schools, including New Heights School, St. Croix Catholic, Salem Lutheran, Valley Crossing and St. Croix Preparatory Academy. Each of these schools will have start times ranging from 9:05 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and end between 3:40 p.m. and 4 p.m. depending on the school.

"I appreciate the public’s concern about start times," said board member Tom Lehmann. "I think we’ve honed this to the best it’s going to get and for a savings of $300,000 I think it can’t get much better than that."

The action passed 7-0.

The board also unanimously approved a 2012-2013 academic calendar. The biggest change in the new calendar compared to the current year is there will be no late starts next year. Instead, there will be two less student instructional days for teachers to have professional development days. This does not mean there are less student instructional days than what’s required by state law.

The new transportation schedule and the 2012-2013 academic calendar will be on the district website for review at