TAMPA, Fla. -- The Hillsborough School Board has approved new bell times.
The vote came Tuesday after months of discussion.
The new times will be as follows
Elementary Schools: 7:40 a.m. start, 1:55 p.m. end
Elementary Magnet: 8:45 a.m. start, 3:00 p.m. end
High Schools: 8:30 a.m. start, 3:25 p.m. end
Middle and High Magnet: 8:30 a.m. start, 3:25 p.m. end
Middle Schools: 9:25 a.m. start, 4:20 p.m. end
Earlier report from Emerald Morrow....
When Hillsborough County school board leaders vote Tuesday to modify start and end times for the entire district, some worry the decision will be rooted more so in the need to save money than the desire to get children to school on time.
"It is about saving money on one side,” said Hillsborough County Schools spokesperson Tanya Arja. “We're going to save about $2 million with this new bell schedule because we would not have to hire as many bus drivers, because you would then allow bus drivers to do three different routes.”
“But this is really about making sure our students have a full day. We need to make sure that our students are there at the beginning of the day, that they are on time and that they get all of the instruction that they need," she said.
However, some bus drivers worry this is all code language for the possibility that some of their jobs will eventually be cut. At the recommendation of outside consultants, the district has already eliminated courtesy busing for hundreds of children who live within a 2-mile radius of their school.
The consultants have also recommended job cuts in other areas.
Bus drivers worry all of these decisions on top of the possible changes to start times will put too much strain on an already stressful job. “You have a whole lot of other responsibilities other than being a bus driver,” said Perselphone Johnson. “You’re mama, grandmama, nurse, counselor and more.”
District officials said the bus route efficiency would mean more students can get to school on time. Arja said last year more than 12,000 students were late by no fault of their own.
“We need to make sure that our students are there at the beginning of the day, that they are on time and that they get all of the instruction that they need,” she said.
If new start times are approved, schools on all levels would see changes. Parents of elementary and high schoolers have been especially vocal, since the youngest students would have to get up much earlier, and the oldest students would have less time for after-school jobs and activities.