Carmel Clay Schools may extend elementary school day, set later start time for middle, high schools


Carmel Clay Schools is considering several changes that could affect the length of the school day for students in all grade levels.

Dr. Michael Beresford
Dr. Michael Beresford

At a Nov. 11 school board workshop, CCS Supt. Michael Beresford shared results of parent and teacher surveys that showed support for lengthening the elementary school day and shortening the school day for middle and high school students. The changes could go into effect for the 2020-21 school year, if approved.

The district is proposing adding 30 minutes to the elementary school day, meaning it would start at 8 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. Currently, it begins at 8:05 a.m. and ends at 2:35 p.m.

Parents largely supported this idea – with 85 percent to an opposing 15 percent. Beresford said the additional time would be evenly split between adding more recess and instructional time.

“If you look into the (extra minutes for instructional time), we’re actually going to give the teachers a choice to use that time as they see fit and for what they need,” Beresford said. “We’re talking about decompressing that day a little bit.”

Teachers weren’t as supportive, with just 58 percent saying they were in favor. But of the remaining 41 percent, 12 percent of teachers said they were undecided.

Beresford said Carmel and Zionsville have the shortest elementary school days when compared to similar, nearby districts.

Another proposal is beginning the school day at 8:45 a.m. and ending it at 3:45 p.m. for middle and high school students. The current day for those students is 7:45 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. and 7:50 a.m. to 3:05 p.m., respectively, meaning their school day would be either 15 or 20 minutes shorter.

“There’s a lot of research that secondary students, especially kids in puberty, function much better on a later-start school day,” Beresford said, adding that the time cut would come out of built-in transition, like time between classes and during morning announcements.

Parents also mostly responded in favor of this idea, with just 13 percent saying they didn’t support it. Teachers were less sure, with just 67 percent supporting, 16 percent opposing and 17 percent saying they were undecided or needed more information.

CCS also has proposed building in more professional development time for teachers district-wide. The change would mean that twice each month, all CCS students would have a one-hour delay to the school day, giving teachers a chance to engage in professional development workshops and meetings.

At the elementary schools, this change would mean that students on those days would attend school from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. At the middle schools and high school, students would be in session from 9:45 to 3:45 p.m.

Parents of middle and high schoolers supported the idea, 81 percent to 19 percent. Middle and high school teachers also were supportive, 81 percent to 4 percent that opposed. Fifteen percent said they were undecided or neutral.

Parents of elementary-age students were far less supportive, with just 56 saying they were in favor of the late-start days and 44 percent opposing it, most of which said the change would cause disruptions with work and childcare schedules. Elementary-level teachers supported the idea at 70 percent, with 15 percent saying they opposed and another 15 percent saying they were undecided.

All of the proposed changes would come at a cost, Beresford said, when taking into account the employees of the district who are paid hourly, which include administrative and instructional assistants. By extending their days by 30 minutes, Beresford said it would cost the district approximately $350,000 annually.

No action was taken on any proposal. Learn more at

Teachers Undecided
adding 30 minutes to elementary day  85 15 58 30 12
Delay start for middle, high school  87 13 67 16 17
One-hour delay twice a month (elementary) 56 44 70 15 15
One-hour delay twice a month (middle and high school)  81 19 81 4 15

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