When the School Bell Rings

School start times are changing again, as the school board makes more updates to the tiered system.


These alarms show what the potential wake up times could be for each tier, starting with tier 1.

Springfield Public Schools can’t decide when to ring the school bell. 

Before this past school year, SPS used a two tiered model for both start times and busing. In the  2021 to 2022 school year, however, start times were divided into three tiers, with high school starting the earliest at 7:30, then elementary at 8:30, and finally middle school at 9:30. This was to allow for more students to become eligible to ride the bus and to reduce the number of routes and bus drivers needed in the school district. 

“With the three tier system and the reduced eligibility guidelines we anticipated upwards of about three thousand students would become eligible that were not previously eligible,” Deputy Superintendent Dr. John Mulford said at the SPS board meeting on April 12th.

“What we experienced was about two thousand students actually taking advantage of that. We jumped from mid seven thousands riding the buses to mid nine thousands,” he also said. 

However, Springfield was still short on bus drivers, making their ideal plan more difficult. As the school year went on, the district was able to hire more bus drivers, but they are still looking to fill seven positions. 

Now, the school board has changed the system again, implementing new start times for each tier for the upcoming school year. 

“Under the proposed plan, there will be three tiers for start and dismissal times: 

Tier 1: 7:20 a.m.-2:20 p.m.

Tier 2: 8:10 a.m.-3:10 p.m.

Tier 3: 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.,” Ozark First reported.

The schools assigned to each tier changed as well, with high schools and elementary schools switching places. 

“Tier 1 includes 20 elementary schools, two K-8 schools, and one intermediate school. Tier 2 applies to all high schools, 10 elementary schools, and the early childhood special education center. Tier 3 times apply to all middle schools and two K-8 schools,” Ozark First said in the same article. 

These new start times were decided on for a number of reasons. Deputy superintendent Mulford listed these within his address to the school board at the same meeting. 

“As we reviewed feedback from the parents and staff one of the things that we definitely realized was that we had to close the window between tiers, we had to shorten that,” he said. “We had to ensure that we weren’t starting at 9:30 on our third tier and we weren’t getting out at 4:30.” 

While they looked at these problems, the school board wanted to make sure that not only could they try and fix these problems but also keep as many students on the buses as possible, despite not having enough bus drivers to cover all of the routes. The recommendation? A revised three tiered system. 

The new system only has a 50 minute gap between each tier instead of an hour, and the final tier starts at 9:00 instead of 9:30. Their two main objectives are reached with this tiered system, though there are faults. 

In tier 1, parents are worried about finding affordable after school care for their elementary age students, since many parents do not get off of work before 2:20. Additionally, many elementary students are not used to waking up so early for school, and buses will be picking students up at extremely early times. 

In tier 2, high school students’ availability after school for extracurriculars and jobs will be cut by 40 minutes. This will significantly impact the hours many will be able to work, and how much money they will make. 

In tier 3, middle school students will still be going until 4:00, which is pretty late. Though overall, middle school students and parents will benefit the most from this new system. 

Moving forward, It will be interesting to see how the new system will affect the students of SPS, specifically high school students.