The Hillsborough County School Board voted six to one to approve the proposed bell time schedule recommended by Superintendent Jeff Eakins to tentatively take effect in the 2018-2019 school year.
According to the district, after receiving feedback that many families would have difficulty adjusting to a new bell schedule for the 2017-2018 school year they voted and approved Superintendent Jeff Eakins' recommendation to waiting one year before making district wide changes.
The district added that their current bell schedule does not allow enough time between their high school, elementary and middle school start times, to get students to school on time. And that this was the district's way in seeking to correct the issue in order to secure the appropriate number of instructional minutes for students.
The district said across the State of Florida, the standard time between bell times is at least 55 to 75 minutes for successful pick-up and drop-off of students. Currently, they only has 27 minutes between the high school and elementary start times.
The new bell schedule means high school students will be dismissed nearly an hour earlier, which will allow opportunities for them to begin homework, get to practice, go to after-school activities and begin their jobs sooner. The elementary students are expected to gain an extra 15 minutes of Art, Music and Physical Education, which facilitates learning in other subjects and improves the overall health and well-being of students. The middle school students, along with the high school students, will keep a 7-period day, which affords them the opportunity to take more classes (including Advanced Placement and electives such as Art, Music and Band).
In addition to allowing students to arrive to school on time, the improved efficiency will redirect $2.5 million from transportation back to the classroom to support student instruction.
The district is preparing to offer HOST (before and after school care) at all elementary and middle schools, starting at about $12 a week.