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L-M Considers School Time Changes to Allow for District Growth

With the opening of the two intermediate schools, the district is reviewing school start times and bus routes for the 2020-21 school year.

The impact of opening two new schools is a significant change not only for students and staff but also for the Linn-Mar School District as a system.

The district is currently operating on a two-tiered transportation system. Approximately half of our school buildings start at an earlier time (Wilkins, Indian Creek, Excelsior, Oak Ridge, and Novak) and the other half start at a later time (High School, Linn Grove, Westfield, Bowman Woods, and Echo Hill). This two-tiered system allows Linn-Mar to be efficient with the number of buses that are needed, as well as the number of bus drivers that are employed. Additional buildings require additional buses, so Superintendent Bisgard and members of the administrative team thought this was a good time to review our transportation system to see if there is a better format to consider.

The following goals were established in the review process:

Have all schools at the same grade level (elementary, intermediate, etc.) have the same start times.
Align school start times with educational research:
Younger students should start school earlier in the day and older students should start school later in the day.
Be as cost-efficient as possible:
Each route costs approximately $60,000 per year.
Create as little chaos for schools and families as possible.
Simultaneously plan for the 2020-21 school year and long-term.

Linn-Mar partnered with School Bus Consultants to help create multiple scenarios of bus routes and start times. To continue with the current two-tiered structure, the district would need to add approximately 8-10 new routes when compared to the 2019-20 school year. In an effort to better meet the established goals, a single three-tiered process was considered. In this model, elementary schools would begin at an earlier time, the intermediate and middle schools would be on the second bus loop and start time, and the high school would make up the later start time. This model would only need approximately three new routes, so it would be a substantial cost saving for the district.

A draft of the potential start time schedule is shown below:

7:50 AM to 2:35 PM Elementary Schools
8:25 AM to 3:10 PM Intermediate Schools and Middle Schools
8:55 AM to 3:55 PM High School

Please note that these times are not finalized. They are just approximations at this time to allow for additional in-depth conversation and planning.

The three-tiered system is being seriously considered at this time because it best meets the identified goals that were established at the beginning of the process: 1) All schools at the same grade levels will start at the same time, 2) It aligns with best educational practices, 3) It is fiscally responsible, and 4) It allows for additional schools to be added at the elementary and high school levels, if necessary.

The Linn-Mar administration and school board would like to gather feedback on the three-tiered system of school start times before any final decisions are made. If you would like to provide feedback, please do so by using this link to send an email or emailing

The Linn-Mar School Board intends to continue this conversation during future board meetings, with the goal of making a final decision in January. You can access the board meeting dates and agendas by visiting the School Board/Policy website