After parents’ complaints and repeated votes to shift school hours, the Portland school board has approved new start and end times for elementary and middle schools beginning next fall.

The board is changing the start and end times for all city schools because it decided late last year to add 20 minutes of instruction to the school day. Because it has a limited number of school buses, the district is staggering start times so the buses can make multiple runs in the morning and afternoon.

The school day at all high schools will now start at 8 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. Middle schools will go from 7:55 a.m.–2:25 p.m.

Elementary schools are divided into two groups. Classes in group 1 – Riverton, Ocean Avenue, Reiche – will start at 8:20 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m. Group 2 – Hall, East End, Longfellow, Lyseth, Presumpscot – will start at 8:40 a.m. and end at 3:10 p.m.

The board initially approved a plan to start high schools as late as 8:55 a.m., basing the decision on medical research showing that teenage students perform better if they sleep later and start school later. To accommodate that, the board moved up start times for some elementary schools to as early as 7:45 a.m., essentially flipping the elementary and high school start times.

But parents objected, started an online petition and spoke out at public hearings. The board changed the high school start back to 8 a.m., but once that was decided, several parents objected to the elementary school start times, starting a new cycle of discussion.

No parents or students spoke about the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting and the board approved the start times by a 7-1 vote with Laurie Davis dissenting.

At other meetings, most said 7:45 a.m. is simply too early, and staggered schedules could complicate after-school sports or cause scheduling problems for teachers who work at multiple schools, such as those teaching in the gifted-and-talented program.

On Tuesday, several board members said the experience made them realize they have to communicate better with the school communities.

“This certainly has been something we didn’t intend to be so contentious with our community,” board member Marnie Morrione said. “It’s a good example that we have to ensure on big issues like the calendar, busing … I’d rather take our time and be transparent and have lots of time to engage, instead of thinking we can just move forward.”

Board member Jenna Vendil was encouraged by the number of people who came out to speak on the proposals.

“I was really inspired by how the community came together to really fight for the things they believed in and to hold us accountable as public officials,” Vendil said. “I say thank you to parents and community members.”