The bell times for September 2014 have been finalized. You can view the finalized times in the 2014-15 Bell Time Review- July 2014- FINAL report.

Background Information

The Waterloo Region District School Board is undertaking a system fiscal review to identify opportunities to reduce costs, implement operational efficiencies and optimize the allocation of resources to address the board’s budget pressures and support the Board’s long-term strategic plan.

In order to avoid a budget deficit in 2014-2015 and return the board to a sustainable fiscal position, the board must identify a minimum of $4.6M in operational savings. A thorough review of all areas is being undertaken and in order to preserve direct classroom programs and services which support student achievement, a number of non-classroom expense areas have been identified for review.

The board currently spends approximately $1M more on student transportation than it receives in grant revenue from the Province of Ontario. In order to address this shortfall, the board is looking at ways to reduce its transportation costs. One possibility is to increase walking distances so fewer students will be transported, thereby reducing costs.

Another potential cost saving measure is to increase the use of existing buses—using the same bus 2 or 3 times to pick students up in the morning and afternoon reduces overall costs. In order to do this, school bell times, or start and finish times, need to be spread out within the current guidelines which stipulate a start time window of 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. and an end time window of 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The board has analysed the savings potential of altering school bell times in order to make our transportation system more efficient. The following options were investigated for moving existing individual school bell times.

  • Plus or minus 10 minutes, estimated savings $430,000.
  • Plus or minus 20 minutes, estimated savings $930,000.
  • Plus or minus 30 minutes, estimated savings $1,050,000.

In addition, an analysis was conducted on switching secondary students to later start times and elementary students to earlier start times. There has been research on the advantages of this arrangement for student learning. This was examined two years ago.

  • Savings potential, $980,000.

At this point, the board is investigating changing bell times plus or minus 20 minutes. The advantages include the fact that all existing riders will continue to be transported and the board will save an estimated $930,000, toward its goal of $4.6M.

Some school communities will need to adjust their routines and schedules by up to 20 minutes. Other schools, particularly those without bused students, will not have their bell times changed unless they request a change (please refer to administrative procedure 4260).

How many schools will change?

The WRDSB has 118 schools

  • 92 schools will change by 10 minutes or less (45 schools will have no change at all)
  • 12 schools will change by +/- 15 minutes
  • 14 schools will change by +/- 20 minutes

Any additional questions or comments can be sent to

Information presented to Trustees

September 23, 2013 presentation

October 21, 2013 Presentation & Data

November 18, 2013 Report & Presentation


Q: I have kids in different schools within your system but I can only complete the survey once. How do I find out the proposed times for the other schools?

A: The survey was designed to only allow one response per computer. In order to allow families to determine the proposed times of multiple schools, we have made them available on the link below.

Proposed School Bell Times- September 2014

Q: The Board is proposing bell time changes for September 2014. If they are approved, would the Board try to change them again in 2015?

A: No. If the Board approves the changes being proposed, schools would not be asked to change again in 2015. If a school wanted a change, we have a process in place for them to submit that request and it would be reviewed by STSWR to see if it could be accommodated without the Board incurring additional costs.

Q: How will the Board save $1 million by changing bell times?

A: Please refer to the presentation .  Slides 4-7 provide an example of how the savings are achieved.

Q: Why is the Board looking to change Bell Times?

A: The Waterloo Region District School Board has a deficit of $4.6 million. In order to address this, the Board is in the process of identifying options to reduce spending in areas that do not impact direct classroom instruction.

Q: How many schools are changing under the proposal?

A: The Waterloo Region District School Board has 118 schools. Under the proposal, 92 schools would change by 10 minutes or less (45 of those would have no change at all), 12 will change by +/- 15 minutes, and 14 will change by +/- 20 minutes.

Q: A couple years ago the Board was considering starting high schools at 9:30- which was about an hour later than their current bell times. Is this the same proposal?

A: No. Under the proposal being considered, no school in the system would move by more than +/- 20 minutes from its current bell time.

Q: Will these changes negatively impact the ability of high school students to participate in after school activities, including part time jobs.

A: Under the proposed changes, high schools would start between 10 and 20 minutes earlier. Therefore, we do not anticipate that these changes will have a negative impact on the ability of high school students to participate in after school activities, including part time jobs.

Q: Will these changes impact extended day programs offered by the Board or Third Party Providers?

A: No. The proposed changes would not impact the extended day programs offered by the Board or Third Party Providers. Extended day programs would continue to be offered between 7am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Q: Will these changes result in the cost of extended day programs going up?

A: No. Since the hours of the extended day programs are not changing (7am to 6pm), the overall cost of care would not change as a result of bell times. The only change that some parents might see is a change in the morning rate or the afternoon rate.

Q: Will the proposed changes negatively impact Community Use of Schools?

A: No. School facilities are available for community use between 6:30 and 10:00 pm. The proposed changes would not impact that availability.

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