2015-16 Bell Schedule

Beginning in September, changes to the bell schedule will be implemented at many schools, including all middle, high, and secondary schools. Find your school's start time:

Traffic patterns are likely to be impacted by the change in bell schedule near many schools.  Drivers are urged to be aware of walkers and students waiting at bus stops.

Research has shown that adolescents benefit from later school start times in order to help students get a sufficient amount of sleep. The Fairfax County School Board approved a recommendation for starting high schools later, between 8 and 8:10 a.m. and ending between 2:45 and 2:55 p.m. The new bell schedule will benefit more than 57,000 high school students representing more than 30 percent of Fairfax County Public Schools' (FCPS) student population.

The new bell schedule means that every school will be in session for 6 hours and 45 minutes per day.

Superintendent Garza and the School Board hope to continue to refine and improve school start times in the years ahead.

Bus schedules will be sent to families this summer as has been done in previous years.

If you have concerns about your child's school bus transportation, please contact the transportation supervisor for your school.

FAQs for Parents on Bell Schedule (pdf)

Background Information

The School Board's decision to change the bell schedule reflects a start time change for all four years of high school, a crucial period for students' college-preparatory or work-readiness years as well as their athletic engagements and other activities. As a part of the decision, the School Board approved later start times for all middle and high school students who attend the three FCPS secondary schools.

Middle school students will attend school from 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. The elementary school window remains unchanged with elementary school students beginning their day between 8 and 9:20 a.m. All elementary schools will start at the same time or within 5 to 10 minutes of their current start time.

Approved Plan

  • 6:45 length of day  
  • MS moved to 7:30 a.m.
  • All SS students will start at the HS start time


(8:00-9:20) - (2:45-4:05)


7:30 - 2:15


(8:00-8:10) - (2:45 – 2:55 )

Plan Cost & # of Buses

$5.4 million
47 buses

Revised Plan Cost*

$4.9 million
27 buses

*As part of the FY 2014 Final Budget Review, the School Board approved a purchase of 20 buses.

+ Expenditure Detail
Description ($ in Millions)


Bus Driver



Bus Attendant









Recruitment Bonus



Fuel & Vehicle Services



Initial Training



Buses (Lease Purchase)



Spare Bus Usage


Total Cost $5.4

Net Cost
(Reduced by 20 buses already purchased)



  • This option reflects the community’s input from the eight dialogues and online feedback forms, balances the needs of the community, and represents a consensus among many stakeholder groups that could be impacted by this change.
  • While middle school times are not optimal yet, the Superintendent will continue to work on moving them closer to 8 a.m. in the future.
  • In August 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement that recommended later start times so that school schedules would be aligned with the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents. Other research indicates sleep-deprived students have shortened attention spans, slower reaction time, lower test scores, poorer grades, increased rates of depression, and higher risk of car crashes.
  • The School Board's approval of the new start times schedule for the 2015-16 school year will allow families and employees almost a full calendar year to adjust to the change.

The Fairfax County School Board adopted a resolution in April 2012 to seek solutions that will establish high school start times at 8 a.m. or later. After adopting the resolution, the School Board voted in March 2013 to award a contract to Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) to develop a proposal to achieve the goal.

Working with a stakeholder committee, CNMC’s Division of Sleep Medicine initiated a process to develop a Blueprint for Change. The committee studied several workable scenarios to start high schools in Fairfax County after 8:00 a.m. to improve students’ mental and physical health, academic performance, and safety. The scenarios were presented to the School Board at a work session on April 23.

Four options were presented by consultants from Children's National Medical Center (CNMC) at community meetings and via an online form in May and June. After analyzing the feedback, CNMC made a final recommendation to the School Board at its work session on July 14.

In total, the School Board has held six work sessions since June 2012 to discuss the issue. Eight community meetings were held between May 19 and June 11 during which approximately 1,000 participants shared their opinions on four options. In addition, more than 2,000 comments were gathered from an online feedback form.  Opinions, ideas, and concerns can be directed to any School Board member. Their contact information is available on the FCPS website under School Board.

The School Board voted on October 23.

Children’s National Medical Center Division of Sleep Medicine

As part of its community engagement efforts, the CNMC team created and maintained a website and social media pages with educational materials, held more than 45 individual community stakeholder meetings, and hosted four group stakeholder meetings to examine costs, logistics, feasibility and the potential impact of moving high school start times later. The work resulted in a number of scenarios/ranges that were considered.

For more information about the Blueprint for Change process, visit http://www.smartschoolstart.org/


Fairfax County School Board Approves Later Start Times for High Schools

The Children's National Medical Center consultants prepared a report on start times in districts throughout the country:

Report on Start Times (pdf)

Community Meetings Feedback and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions on Later Start Times (pdf - updated 10/22/14)


Play ButtonSuperintendent Garza message on Later Start Times (2:27)


American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement

Webpage Curator

Nancy Moy

Last Updated

August 13, 2015