School Bell Times Study Project

APS has begun a project to review our school bell schedules, and start and end times, across schools, and to compare instructional minutes across school divisions. The goal is to ensure we are maximizing instruction and reducing the variations in start/end times to operate more efficiently.

Currently, there are 8 different start/end times; the goal is to reduce them to no more than 4 for the 2022-23 School Year. By reducing the number of start/end times, APS aims to optimize transportation services and identify efficiencies that will improve APS operations, streamline school bus routes and schedules, and reduce costs. APS will also conduct a comparative analysis of instructional minutes in the school day across school divisions and recommend changes where needed.

Currently, APS has among the fewest instructional minutes compared to neighboring school divisions. To maximize instructional time, APS will add up to ten additional minutes to the school day for the 2022-2023 school year. The approved school year calendar for the 2022-2023 school year includes the equivalent of 6 instructional days built into the calendar for inclement weather whereas adding up to ten instructional minutes to the school day will allow for the equivalent of an additional 5 instructional days.

With the APS calendar having 175 instructional days at the middle school level and 176 instructional days at the elementary and high school levels, we must revert to hours to ensure we have enough instructional time for a school year. The other option would be to increase the number of instructional days which could entail starting school earlier and/or ending the school year later in June.

In January 2022, APS entered a contract with Transpar to assist APS with bell time and routing analysis and stakeholder engagement.

School Bell Times Study Technical Advisory Team (TAT)

In early February, APS is soliciting feedback from internal and external stakeholders to form the technical advisory team (TAT) comprised of the following:

  • Transportation staff
  • School-based administrators
  • Advisory Committee Members
  • PTA representatives

Once formed, the committee will work with Transpar to guide the study and other project deliverables. After a series of virtual meetings with the TAT, a survey will be developed for further stakeholder input regarding changes to the current bell times for all students. Final recommendations will be provided to the School Board as an information item at the April 28, 2022, for action on May 12, 2022.

Technical Advisory Team Meeting Presentations & Recordings

School Board Presentations

Based on the feedback received from the community, an alternative scenario has been developed to present to the School Board that minimizes schedule changes as much as possible, while still achieving the goals of the project. The School Board will act on this proposal at the School Board Meeting on May 12.

School Bell Times Study Project Timeline: January 2022 – April 2022

The following provides the timeline including engagement opportunities for staff and families to ask questions about the study.

Schedule Task Deliverables
Week of January 10, 2022 Project Kick-off meeting (virtual) with APS staff to:

  • Refine Scope to identify primary and secondary objectives of the project and performance measures that will be used to evaluate potential solutions.
  • Review service rule and bell time constraint requirements and discuss approach to obtaining feedback from technical advisory team
  • Confirm schedule
Finalized scope of services and performance measures
Mid-January through project duration Meet with project technical advisory team (up to 5 virtual meetings) to:

  • identify service rules (e.g., earliest bus pick-up time for start of school; earliest arrival time at schools to leave students) and bell time constraints (e.g., high school start times)
  • review performance measures to be applied in the analysis
  • review results of analysis before external meetings
Finalized service rules and bell time constraints
Starting upon receipt of data completion of Task 2 deliverables described above
  • Review the SY2021-22 bell times, current transportation data and routes for all APS schools. (*APS Contract Schools (Out of District) and Thomas Jefferson HS are excluded from the bell time analysis; however, trips to these schools at their current times should be factored into the analysis as they do use APS bus resources.)
  • Include recommendations for areas not currently eligible for bus service that may not be conducive to students walking.
  • Physically review locations
  • Discuss recommendations with project team for inclusion in Task 4 work.
Immediately upon completion of Tasks 2 and 3
  • Run transportation analysis applying service rules and bell time constraints identified in Task 2 to determine optimal bell schedules and routes
  • Present four viable alternatives to staff, with vendor preferred option.
  • Meet with technical advisory team to determine options (2-3) that best meet performance measures for presenting to stakeholders.
  • Physically review proposed options prior to Task 5 virtual meetings (up to 2 visits).
  • Four possible solutions to meet objectives with matrix outlining pros and cons and outcomes vs performance measures
  • Vendor recommended solution
  • Recommended routes/structure


Upon completion of Task 4

  • Conduct internal and external community engagement to discuss the results. Engagement will include up to 6 virtual meetings with APS staff groups, advisory committees and school communities affected by the changes. A survey will be made available in early April to all APS families.  
  • Presentation on results
  • Virtual stakeholder meetings to answer questions about analysis
April 2022 and/or no later than May 12, 2022
  • APS staff and vendor will present possible solutions along with recommended option for start and end times for elementary, middle, and high schools at the April 28 Board meeting as an information item.
  • The Board will take action on recommendation at the May 12 Board meeting.
  • Final report and presentation to the Board

For additional information or questions on the School Bell Times Study Project, please email