Note: This story has been updated since it was printed in our April 21 issue hitting mailboxes today and tomorrow. Superintendent Jeff Eakins made an announcement after we went to press that he will propose to the School Board that changes in the bell schedule be postponed to the 2018-19 school year.
Hillsborough County Public Schools has released a proposal that changes the times school will start and end, which will affect start and end times for all elementary, middle and high school students in New Tampa. While originally the plan called for changes to be made this fall, for the 2017-18 school year, school superintendent Jeff Eakins sent an email to parents on April 17 saying that he will now recommend these changes be implemented for the following school year, 2018-19.
“Currently, many students are consistently late to school because there’s not enough time for our buses to pick up and drop off students,” explains Eakins in a video emailed to parents and staff in late March. “This means our children are losing valuable instructional time. When students are late to class, it affects the learning environment for all children.”
The bell schedule originally proposed for 2017-18 adds instructional time at the elementary level in most schools, with one exception in New Tampa. Turner Bartels K-8 students would lose 5 minutes of a day that already is longer than most elementary schools. For middle schools, students would lose 20 minutes, and high schools lose 32. Middle and high school students will keep their seven-period day, but may see the elimination of homeroom, a shorter time for lunch, and class periods that may be reduced by a minute or two.
Eakins says additional benefits of changing school bell times are that the new times may allow for more time for music, art and physical education at the elementary level, and that “… all students will benefit, due to an increase in quality planning time for teachers.”
Eakins wrote in his email to parents that he still feels the proposed plan is still the best option for meeting the school district’s goals. However, the proposal drew a large amount of public outcry, not only because of the time changes but also how the proposal was created. The plan, released on April 4 and available online at SDHC.k12.fl.us/doc/1855/administration/resources/belltimes/, proposes the following changes:
|School||Current Bell Schedule||Proposed Bell Schedule for 2017-18|
|High (Freedom & Wharton)||7:33 a.m. – 3 p.m.||7:15 a.m. – 2:10 p.m.|
|Middle (Benito & Liberty)||9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.||9:30 a.m. – 4:25 p.m.|
|Elementary (Chiles, Clark, Heritage, Hunter’s Green, Pride & Tampa Palms)||8 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.||8:35 a.m. – 3:05 p.m.|
|Turner Bartels K-8||8:45 a.m. – 3:35 p.m.||8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.|
The Board is still expected to consider the proposed recommendation — which may include revisions based on comments from the community — at a specially called meeting on Tuesday, April 25, 3:30 p.m.
To share your thoughts on the proposed changes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.