Pickerington Local School District students will start their classes at new times when they return to school next week.

Pickerington Local School District students will start their classes at new times when they return to school next week.

The first day of the 2012-12 school year for students in grades 1-12 is slated for Monday, Aug. 27. Classes for kindergarten students will begin Thursday, Aug. 30.

When students return, many will do so under a new school schedule, which district administrators said was altered to better serve working parents after seeking input from building principals and teachers.

Class start times were changed prior to the 2011-12 school year, with earlier middle school and elementary start times, as the district sought to cut costs by streamlining bus schedules.

However, those changes were met with resistance by some who noted the start times were later than the beginning of most parents' work days.

For the 2012-13 school year, classes at the high school and junior high levels will continue to be held from 7:20 a.m. to 1:55 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., respectively.

However, middle school start times will change to 8:40 a.m., with classes ending at 3:05 p.m., and elementary schools will open at 9:10 a.m. and end by 3:35 p.m.

The middle school and elementary schedules represent changes from this past school year, when middle school was in session from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and elementary classes were held from 9:40 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

Morning, or "A.M.," kindergarten students will attend classes from 9:10 to 11:55 a.m. Afternoon, or "P.M.," kindergartners will go to school from 12:55 to 3:35 p.m.

In addition to the new start times, district Assistant Superintendent Jim Sotlar said the school days have been lengthened.

At most grade levels, he said, the extra time should facilitate additional instruction for teachers and provide more time for tutors and classroom intervention to provide academic help to students who've fallen behind the rest of their class members.

At the high school level, Sotlar said, the school day has been increased from a seven-period day to an eight-period day.

The move, he said, will allow for students to take up to one additional class per grading period, and it will ensure each student has a dedicated lunch period.

"At the high school, the school day is about 15 minutes longer," Sotlar said.

"At the junior high, the school day is about 10 minutes longer. At the middle school, the school day has been increased by about 25 minutes, and the school day also has been increased by about 25 minutes for elementary students."

Bus route information related to pickups and dropoffs for students at all levels will be posted on the district website, www.pickerington.k12.oh.us prior to the start of school, Sotlar said.

Additionally, school lunch prices for the 2012-13 year have been set at $2.25 for high school, junior high and middle school students.

Elementary students will pay $2 for lunch.

Reduced lunch prices are listed at 40 cents on the district website.

Breakfast will be offered at Fairfield, Heritage, Pickerington and Tussing elementary schools, as well as at Diley, Harmon and Toll Gate Middle School and Ridgeview Junior High.

The full price for breakfast is $1.25 and students who qualified for reduced costs can purchase breakfast for 30 cents.

Information regarding online management of student lunches through the "MyPaymentsPlus" program -- formerly known as the "MealPayPlus" program -- is available on the district's website, or by going to www.mypaymentsplus.com.