Sequim schools drop proposal to bump back start time

Survey respondents prefer to keep Greywolf Elementary at 8:30 a.m.

SEQUIM — Sequim’s youngest students won’t have to set their alarm clocks back next school year.

Sequim School District leaders in recent weeks floated the idea of moving back start times at Greywolf Elementary School from its current start time of 8:30 a.m. to about 8 a.m. and release time from 3 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., but after seeing results of a survey, administrators declined to bring a proposal to the district’s board of directors.

“We can see the challenges definitely outweigh the improvements,” Sequim School District Superintendent Regan Nickels said at the board’s June 3 meeting.

Nickels said the time shift was being contemplated because school officials noted a significant number of parents were taking advantage of being able to drop off their students before the standard start time at the Carlsborg school.

Greywolf currently serves about 450 students in grades kindergarten, first and second grade. The school served students in K-5 from its opening in 1992 until the 2023-24 school year, when the district’s two elementary schools were reconfigured; Helen Haller Elementary is now home to the district’s students in grades three through five.

Getting the youngest students onto buses first also was a consideration, Nickels said.

However, in a survey reportedly completed by about 250 respondents, feelings were mixed about whether the schedule shift would be beneficial, Nickels said.

Asked if an 8 a.m. start time made things easier for a family, between 10 to 15 percent said yes while double that number said no.

Asked if they support an 8 a.m. opening at Greywolf with other schools keeping their current start times, about 40 percent said no, about 33 percent said yes, and the remaining respondents were split between either needing more information and the change having no impact on their family.

Board director Michael Rocha asked if the survey was able to gauge why respondents were against an earlier start time.

Nickels said the questionnaire did pose some open-ended questions, and that most respondents alluded to transportation and daycare issues.

Nickels told board directors it might be worth conveying the benefits of this earlier start time to those on the fence, but they would not at this point get a recommendation from administrators to vote on a change.

“We will continue to discuss this,” she said, “but we will not be implementing this, this [next school] year.”

Other board action

School board directors unanimously agreed to shift some capital projects levy funds to cover replacement of failing clock and intercom systems at Helen Haller Elementary and Sequim Middle School.

Directors also agreed on a board meeting calendar for the 2024-25 school year, with two regular meetings scheduled per month expect for December and July.

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at michael.dashiell@sequimgazette.com.

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