School board to receive update on work to push back high school start times

photo by: Mackenzie Clark/Journal-World File Photo

The Lawrence Board of Education meeting room at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, is pictured in this file photo from Feb. 25, 2019.

The Lawrence school board will soon receive its first update from a new group investigating the possibility of starting the school day later for high school students.

The Late Start Time Implementation Committee, a school district committee charged with investigating the possibility of moving back start times at Lawrence and Free State high schools, is expected to provide the update during the board’s meeting on Monday.

The school district began investigating the possibility of moving high school start times back in 2018. After almost a year of research, the school district found parents and students preferred moving the start time from 8:05 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., but faculty preferred the current schedule.

The split in preference led to the school district spending another year on the issue with the creation of the Late Start Time Implementation Committee in early 2019. At Monday’s meeting, the committee will provide its first update on how previously proposed start times could affect the school district if implemented for the 2020-2021 school year.

Normally, the high school day runs from 8:05 a.m. to 3:10 p.m., with a few classes held during a 7 a.m. “zero hour.” (For the current school year, classes actually begin at 8 a.m. rather than 8:05 a.m. That change was made to add extra classroom time after construction delays at Lawrence High School caused the start of the school year to be pushed back.)

Alternative options previously presented in the district’s surveys included school days from 8:30 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. with a 7:30 a.m. zero hour, or school days from 9 a.m. to 4:05 p.m. with an 8 a.m. zero hour.

In other business, the board will consider giving final approval to a new student dress code that more specifically outlines what may not be worn in school. The board gave initial approval to the proposed dress code during its meeting on Nov. 11.

The proposed policy says students must wear some sort of top, bottom and shoes. Additionally, they may wear hats, including religious headwear; hooded sweatshirts; fitted pants, including leggings, yoga pants, and “skinny jeans”; ripped jeans, as long as underwear is not exposed; and tank tops, including spaghetti straps, halter tops, and strapless tops.

More background

Nov. 11, 2019: Lawrence school board gives initial approval to new, more specific student dress code

The proposed policy specifically prohibits students from wearing several items, such as clothing with violent language or images; clothing with images of weapons or alcohol; and clothing with hate speech, threats, profanity, or pornography on it.

If approved, the new policy would replace the current, vague policy, which reads, in its entirety: “Student clothing that has the potential to cause a disturbance in the educational program of a school shall not be allowed.”

The board will also receive an update on the district’s efforts to improve safety at schools.

Ron May, director of safety, security and administration, is expected to present information to the board. May will give his presentation during a work session, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. The board is not expected to take any official action during the session.

The board’s regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive. Prior to the regular meeting and the work session, the board will meet to discuss a matter in executive session at 5:30 p.m. Full agendas can be found on the district’s website,


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