HCPS gathers input for bell schedule changes
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Next August, students could find themselves setting their alarms for a new time. Hillsborough County Public Schools is reevaluating the current bell schedules for all schools, and gathering input from students, parents, teachers, and district officials regarding which new system would be best.
The Basis for Schedule Changes
The reason behind the changes is the statewide standard of 55-75 minutes difference between start times for elementary, middle and high schools. With the current times, there is only a 27-minute difference between the start times of high schools and elementary schools. This short time difference makes it difficult for bus drivers to get elementary students to school on time with enough time to eat breakfast. The same problem is posed in the afternoon, as elementary schools end only 45 minutes before high schools.
The school district felt the best way to resolve these issues was to collect ideas and input from the parents, teachers, and students. In order to do this, the district formed focus groups last September to gather ideas and collected historical concerns from parents such as late buses and appropriate instructional time .
The district also has created a survey for students and parents in order to accumulate opinions on several bell schedule options. The survey, which can be found on Edsby or on the district website, gives several variations of schedules and asks participants to choose one.
For high schools, maintaining the seven-period schedule, ensuring teacher planning time, and adequate time during passing periods all must be taken into account when changing the bell schedule
The school district will make their decision on April 25, but the current tentative bell times for high school propose a start time of 7:15 a.m. and an end time of 2:10 p.m. The school district website provides a detailed list of proposed times for each school.
Superintendent Jeff Eakins said in a video introducing the proposed changes: “We know that this change may be difficult for some of our families and we appreciate your willingness to do what we must to secure the appropriate instructional minutes for our students,”