Beyond MoCo: Howard County Adjusts School Start Times for the 2023-2024 School Year

by MCS Staff

At its meeting on Feb. 23, 2023, the Howard County Board of Education adjusted the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) school start times for the 2023-2024 year, shifting high schools to begin at 8:00 a.m., among other changes. The exact start time for each school will be determined later this spring and shared with the community as transportation routes are finalized. There is no impact to the current school year. The new start times will take effect beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, slated to begin for students on Aug. 28, 2023.

The process of evaluating adjustments to school start times began on April 15, 2021, when the Board of Education directed the Superintendent to review and evaluate the current school start times. The HCPSS Office of Student Transportation worked with Decision Support Group to analyze current start times, bell schedules and transportation routes, and develop a plan that could adjust school opening times. Two options were provided for Board and stakeholder consideration.

The plan adopted by the Board results in start times occurring in three tiers. Some schools may start slightly before or after the stated time for each tier:

  • Schools in Tier 1 will begin at 8:00 a.m. and dismiss at 2:45 p.m. These include all 13 high schools, several middle schools, Cedar Lane School and Homewood Center.
  • Schools in Tier 2 will begin at 8:40 a.m. These include a combination of middle and elementary schools with middle schools dismissing at 3:25 p.m. and elementary schools dismissing at 3:10 p.m.
  • Schools in Tier 3 will begin at 9:15 a.m. and dismiss at 3:45 p.m. These include the remainder of elementary schools.

The process to finalize and fully implement this plan will be a months-long process as it will require adjustments to school and athletic schedules and there are numerous transportation considerations. HCPSS recognizes that many families may have questions related to the implementation. Please note that the implementation will require significant coordination within HCPSS but also with our external partners such as Columbia Association and Howard County Government agencies. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available and posted to the HCPSS website.

Additionally, families who qualify for bus transportation will be required to request it through the Mandatory Transportation Registration Program that is expected to open in Family File in early spring. Additional information regarding this process will be provided soon.

More information about the process to evaluate school start times can be found online.


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