tampabay.com

School times could change

By LETITIA STEIN
Published June 19, 2007


TAMPA - Nearly half of the schools in Hillsborough County could see changes to their start and ending times when the new school year starts in late August.

The bell schedules for individual schools are coming to the School Board for approval tonight. The changes could vary by campus. For example, Armwood High is slated to start at 7:25 a.m. and release at 2:52 p.m. Ten miles away, Bloomingdale High would start at 7:33 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.

The following year, school officials hope to give families greater consistency.

They are trying out a model this August in southeast Hillsborough. Bell times will be uniform by grade level. The district has reworked schedules in the region to give bus drivers time to get elementary students home before the high schools let out.

"It will give us an opportunity to evaluate the transportation improvement changes," said Jack Davis, the district's chief information and technology officer.

That project is one of several initiatives driving bell time revisions countywide. The district is forcing many middle and high school instructors to increase their teaching loads, which has resulted in new schedules at many campuses. Some principals asked to tweak their start and stop times during the transition.

School officials also are smoothing out inconsistencies in the length of the school day, particularly at middle schools. They found that students at some campuses were at school longer than those at others.

"That was a surprise to me," Davis said. "When we looked at middle school length of day, you could see five and 10 minute differences."

Most schools are slated for minor changes - starting a few minutes earlier, or ending later. But parents should be aware that others are more significant: Burnett, Coleman and Greco middle schools, for example, plan to add 30 minutes to the end of their school day.

Letitia Stein can be reached at lstein@sptimes.com or 226-3400.

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