It looks like I will need to find after school daycare for my child.  Do you have a list of the daycare providers?

Below are three resources for families to use in locating childcare in any area of the city.  

  • Dane County 211 through United Way of Dane County -  United Way 2-1-1 helps connect families with local programs and services. They are available 24/7 and offer free, confidential assistance. They can also direct families to resources to help support child care. Text or call 2-1-1, or visit the website.  
  • MOST (Madison area Out of School Time)  The Madison-area Out-of-School Time (MOST) Program Finder is a one-stop-shop for families and youth to find quality programs offered before and after school or during summer and holiday breaks for Madison-area youth. Locate programs near your home or at your child/youth's school. Search the website for programs that match your needs based on location, age, time of day and more.  
  • 4C - Madison  Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. (4-C) is part of a network of accredited, non-profit Wisconsin Child Care Resource & Referral agencies The agency strives to ensure every child has access to high quality early care and education through integrated support and expertise. Visit the website or call 608-271-9181.

How does the change in school start times affect how my middle school student will be transported?

We are transitioning our middle school students from Madison Metro to yellow buses. Badger Bus Lines will be transporting all middle school students who live more than 1.5 miles from school. (State of Wisconsin statute requires transportation for more than 2.0 miles). Madison Metro dodgers will no longer run at schools that have shifted to a later start time (Dodgers are the supplemental Metro bus routes that primarily transport MMSD students. They typically have a route number such as W3).

Will the Badger Bus pick up at the same stop as the Metro Dodger?

Many of the stops may be the same, but some will change. The stops will be similar to elementary schools and already existing yellow bus middle school service (with students walking up to ¼ of a mile and ½ of a mile respectively, to the nearest bus stop). The yellow buses will not stop at every block as was sometimes the case with Metro dodgers.

When will we find out the stop information and time for our student?

Buses will start their routes after they drop off at the elementary school which is around 7:40. Drop off times at the middle schools will be approximately 8:25. More detailed times will be posted in August 2019 as we near Fall Enrollment Days.

My student has received a bus pass in the past and it has worked better for them to ride a regular Madison Metro bus route. Will this be possible?

Bus passes will not be provided to students whose middle schools have changed to a later start time. Students could still choose to ride a Metro Transit’s mainline bus, however, MMSD will not purchase the bus pass. Funds for bus passes will be reallocated to partially cover the cost for yellow bus service.

My child did not qualify for bus service, but we purchased a bus pass so they could ride the Metro dodger. Will this be a possibility?

Madison Metro dodgers will be discontinued as schools change over to a later start time. Families can still choose to purchase a bus pass and have their child ride the main line route.

My child used their bus pass to ride home from our neighborhood center. Are you saying they will no longer get a bus pass?

Yes, unfortunately MMSD cannot continue to purchase bus passes once a school has changed to its new time. The funds used for bus passes will be needed to pay for yellow bus transportation. We do know there are other communities where the city provides bus passes for students. We do not have an immediate solution to this issue, but will support parents, students and schools who want to advocate for our students to receive bus passes. We know that about 33% of the rides used by middle school students are not during school hours.

Will MSCR activities still be offered for middle school students?

Yes. We know these activities are valued by our families. We are currently working with MSCR and our schools at each site to ensure quality programming is still available. We are also working with neighborhood centers to ensure they are planning for the changes in school start times.

What are the major changes for schools for the 2020-2021 school year?

Four of our elementary schools(Midvale, Lincoln, Chavez, Olson) will shift from a late start school to an early start. Their new times will be:

Start: 7:50 AM
Monday Dismissal: 1:15 PM
Tues - Fri Dismissal: 2:47 PM

Three of our middle schools (Toki, Wright, Hamilton) will shift from an early start to a late start time. Their new times will be:

Start: 8:40 AM
Monday Dismissal: 2:20 PM
Tues - Fri Dismissal: 3:52 PM

We know the start times for elementary schools will be 7:50 or 8:40.  What time will my child be dropped of by the bus?  

Bus drop off times are usually 15 minutes before the start time, which is the time we expect students to be in their classrooms ready for instruction. School bell times will be set by the individual schools.

Don’t you think students will just stay up later in the evening if they do not have to get up so early?

It does make sense to think that might happen. We have found some districts that have studied the amount of sleep teens get before and after changing start times and they have found that the bed time does not change significantly. The result is that a significant increase in the percentage of students who are getting eight hours of sleep, which can lead to better outcomes in several areas.

Why are some elementary schools also changing start times?

In order to move the students onto yellow buses we need to free up some late start elementary buses. We can do this by moving some late start elementary schools to early start elementary schools. We also need to add some additional routes. There would be 12 elementary schools moving from a later start time to an early start time; Mendota would move to a late start and other elementary schools would see a minor shift of five or 10 minutes. We are currently working on the plan.

Why didn’t we just have Madison Metro move the start time later for middle schools?

This is where our work started. Unfortunately, Metro does not have the capacity in its system to move the start time later. They are unable now to honor additional service requests to their other customers. The best they could do is to switch middle schools and high schools around which would have only transferred the issue to our high school students. Madison Metro has been a great partner for many years with MMSD and will continue to transport our high school students. Madison Metro is operated by the City of Madison and serves multiple customers.

What if I am scheduled to go to an early start school and my employer will not allow my schedule to be adjusted?

We know that families will need time to figure what works best for their family. Our plan allows for that. In addition, we will be working with area employers to have them learn about this change and encourage them to support their employees. We currently have 21 schools that start early now. We will count on these schools to help other families share what works for them with an early start.

My child loves the after school programs at their middle school. Will these programs continue after the move to later start times?

Yes. We have been working with MSCR to ensure they can still provide programming for our students. The program may be shorter, but there will still be quality programming available. We will also be planning for a longer Monday program for students. We expect to still be able to provide late buses for our after-school activities.

My first grade student gets picked up by a day care center van. Will that still be possible after the change?

Yes it should still be possible. During the planning year we will be working with after-school providers in making the transition.

Is the length of the school day increasing?

No, we are not making changes in the length of the school day.

Are there any changes at the high school level?

High schools will be unaffected by this change.

Why can’t all of the schools start at the same time?

MMSD went to early and late start elementary schools back in 2001 to save significant funds by having our buses transport both an early start and late start school. It would be extremely expensive and cost prohibitive to go back to having buses complete single bus runs. Doing multiple runs is a common, efficient, practice. Some districts have their buses complete triple runs.

I have one child who attends middle school and another attends elementary school that are in the same building. Will they continue to get out near the same time?

MMSD currently has 5 combination middle and elementary schools. Currently, some finish an hour a part and some finish at the same time. For example Marquette and O’Keefe’s current times are similar while Orchard Ridge and Toki’s times are currently about an hour apart. It is likely that we will see the same variance in the new plan, though the schools may change. The locations of schools and how the schools are paired will determine the starting times for the schools.

I am concerned about my middle school student having to get off on their own in the morning. Have you considered that?

Yes. We have thought of that and we will work with families in the upcoming months to understand the challenges in changing the start time. We have learned that some believe that it is safer for middle school students to get themselves off in the morning rather than elementary students. Also, the change allows a shorter time after school for middle school students, which is the most risky time for them to have idle time. We will further explore this in the planning year with our schools and parents. While the start time will be 8:40, many of our students will be boarding the busses around 8 which will work with many parents having to get to work by 8. Finally, some parents report that having their middle school student get themselves off is a way to encourage and support their need for increasing responsibility and independence.

By moving elementary schools earlier, aren’t you just transferring the issue to elementary students?

We have not found research that shows earlier times for elementary school children have had negative impacts. We will be looking more deeply into this in the planning year. We have had parents talk to us who have had students in both middle school and elementary school report that elementary students wake up easier earlier than adolescents.

Will there be more capacity for after school care for elementary students as more parents will likely need additional care?

We are working with MSCR on this issue.  We will also be working with the other providers that serve our schools.  Currently, the challenge for all programs across the nation is finding enough labor to staff the programs. This will likely continue to be a problem as long as the economy continues to flourish. There are some that believe the early start time will be helpful as staff will work more hours in a week and more will be interested in the increased hours. Currently some college students do not apply because there are limited hours for work at a late start elementary school.

We live about 1.3 miles from Jefferson Middle School. We pay for our son to ride Madison Metro. While we support the move to later start times we are concerned that the option of paying for a bus pass will no longer be available. The result for us will then be a decrease in service. This decrease would impact our family negatively.

We are looking into what, if any, options parents would have in this case.  We know there are places all over the district where parents do not meet the minimum distance to qualify for district provided bus service.  The district currently provides yellow bus service to students who live 1.5 miles or more. The state requirement is 2.0 miles. We also know that many of our students ride main line Metro busses to school and not the “Dodger” routes. Those students would still have that option. We recognize that not having the Dodger service would be a decreased level of service for some parents, but also something that other parents have faced across the district.

View the archive of previous frequently asked questions.