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Bell Time Changes Ahead for Hillsborough Students in 2018-2019

Bell Time Changes Ahead: Find out when your kids’ schools will start and end from 2018-19 year 

Hillsborough County Public Schools will adjust start times for the 2018-19 school year based on several rounds of input from the community, a significant change the district announced ten months ahead of time so families would have plenty of time to prepare.

Starting in August, most elementary schools will start at 7:40 a.m. and end at 1:55 p.m. *High schools will go from 8:30 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. The middle school day will run from 9:25 a.m. to 4:25 p.m. Magnet schools will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:25 for middle/high and 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. for elementary. Monday release times will remain one hour early. Exact times may vary at different schools and are available on the district’s website, sdhc.k12.fl.us.

*Because of traffic and transportation out of our students’ control, some of our high school bell times have been adjusted 10 minutes later for the 2019/2020 school year. Make sure to check your child’s school website to confirm the school bell time.

The decision came after months of feedback from parents, students, employees and the community. The School Board adopted the top option identified by 57,000 stakeholders who registered opinions in a heavily promoted online survey. The district also considered feedback from social media, email, phone and in person at board meetings and community forums.

Related: Hillsborough Schools: Unlock 50+ Magnet and School Choice Options

“We are responding to our community and listening to what you are telling us,” Superintendent Jeff Eakins says when he announced the changes. “We value your input as we all work together to prepare students for life.”

The new schedule aligns with guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later. The staggered start times will allow nearly all of the district’s buses to serve three schools each morning and afternoon, fixing the root cause of problems that kept 12,000 students a day from getting to school on time, plus saving taxpayers $2.5 million a year.

“I’m late to school sometimes” because of delayed buses, says Angeling Ramos, a fifth-grader at Corr Elementary School in Gibsonton. “I think (the change) is going to be good. I will be there in time for classes.”

Related: Ask the Doctor: Your Kids and Sleep. How much sleep do they actually need?

Corr Assistant Principal Scott Valdez predicted the adjustment would be beneficial all around.
“If kids are to school on time because buses are running on time and parents are able to drop off, instruction will happen and kids will be able to increase their achievement levels in class,” he says. “Change is very challenging at times. A lot of times if you just give it a chance, you’ll see the benefits as time goes on.”

Low-cost before- and after-school programs, already in place throughout much of the county, will be expanded where needed. Middle and high school classes may be one to three minutes shorter, but district officials noted they will continue to exceed state standards for instructional minutes. Plus, as Chamberlain High School English teacher Jamie Gibbons noted, those minutes will be repurposed for teachers to better prepare for class and provide students with quality feedback.

“Having extra time to plan would allow teachers to not feel as stressed with a few minutes less in a class period,” Gibbons says. “It would allow us to fit a more engaging lesson in that time.”

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