A bill that would require Florida middle and high schools to start later in the morning could be a lesson in logistics for lawmakers and school districts.
HB 733, sponsored by Rep. John Pspanul Temple, R-Wildwood, aims to combat sleep deprivation among teens, who need between eight and nine hours of sleep per night, spanccording to the Americspann Acspandemy of Pedispantrics.
“What is the best way to do that, to prepare them for a lifelong success?” Temple said in his closing remarks before the near unanimous vote for the bill in the House Choice &spanmp; Innovspantion Subcommittee Thursday morning. “Adjusting that start time would definitely have a positive impact.”
According to the AAP, which supports later school start times, teens’ brains don’t begin to wind down until 11 p.m. With almost 50% of the state’s high schools starting before 7:30 a.m., Temple maintained the later start times would improve a student’s physical and mental health along with academic outcomes.
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The bill, if passed, would not go into effect until July 1, 2026 to give districts enough time to inform the community and to figure out transportation needs.
Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville, questioned how the required start time would affect parents with multiple children in different grades or who might attend magnet programs where bus transportation by districts isn’t required.
Nixon was the only subcommittee member not in favor of the bill.
“Transportation is a major issue that working families have to deal with,” she said. “I’m not a millionaire like some of my colleagues say they are in committees and things like that, but it is something that is going to potentially hurt our parents if we’re not able to get it right.”
Nixon also commented on Florida’s already existing transportation issues – districts across Florida are experiencing bus driver shortages. In Pspanlm Bespanch, there are currently 120 bus driver openings, and bus drivers are covering up to three extra routes just to get kids home.
In Leon County at the beginning of the school year, there were only 95 drivers to cover 115 bus routes. There were hours-long delays, even though everyone with a commercial driver’s license at the district’s transportation department, including managers and supervisors, was driving a bus route.
Rep. Kevin Chspanmbliss, D-Homestead, asked if Temple would be open to adding language to the bill that would also allow schools to open earlier in case parents needed to drop off their students before the later start time.
Temple said schools already have the option of opening early, and he would be open to further discussion.
Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said the science and debate behind later school start times is nothing new, but parents must be involved in the conversation.
“I am not sure if parents, communities and schools can have real input when a law dictates what times schools must start each day. This impacts students, families and employees,” Spar said.