A new bell schedule, for all Hillsborough County Public Schools, was decided on by the Hillsborough County School at its meeting last Tuesday. The new schedule will be implemented starting the 2018-2019 school year. The new schedule says that on early-release days, high school will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 2:25 p.m. and, on regular school days, high school will go from 8:30 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.
According to Riverview High School Principal Danielle Shotwell, the primary reason for this change is to help improve the transportation problems that the District is currently facing.
“The (Hillsborough County Public Schools) Transportation Department believes very strongly that the new schedule will work to solve the problems with getting kids to school on time,” Shotwell said.
This new schedule was constructed based off a survey distributed by Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools Jeff Eakins to the community and staff in the District.
“Under this new bell schedule, high school would start an hour later than it does right now. This matches guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends high schools start at 8:30a.m. or later,” said Eakins.
Currently, high school goes from 7:33 a.m. to 3 p.m. on regular days and from 7:33 to 2 on early-release days. The new schedule will take 35 minutes off the school day. The vote for the new schedule only decided the start and stop time of school. Other details regarding the 35-minute loss, such as the class times, passing periods, and how long teachers will have to stay before and after school will be decided at a later time, according to Shotwell.
“The State will designate a minimum class time needed to award credit, and from there Riverview High School will decide how long to make the class periods. This means that there is a chance that passing periods will get shortened, but nothing can be decided at this time,” she added.
To determine the time teachers end and begin their work days, Shotwell will poll the teachers and include them in the decision. Shotwell says she believes that teachers will probably end up coming in 45-50 minutes before the new school day begins to reach their hours needed to work per week.
“I like the idea that teachers would have more time on the front end of the day to plan and collaborate with other teachers,” said Shotwell.
Ending the school day later may affect the sports teams of Riverview. Some spring teams are already fighting daylight during practices with the current schedule. Head Girls Track Coach Jessica Thornton believes that, with the new schedule, it may be difficult to get to the track meets on time if the meets continue to start at their current times. Thornton also thinks that the athletes and coaches will be getting home even later they do now. Shotwell also sees this as being a drawback of the new schedule.
Riverview High School has mixed emotions about this new bell schedule change. Junior Sara McAllister said, “I’m happy that we will be able to wake up later,” and sophomore Damon Myers agrees. Myers said, “It’s amazing, mainly because I have to get up early for the bus since I live far away so it means I won’t have to be up as early.”
Others prefer the early start. “I like starting earlier,” said Riverview social studies teacher Darik Olson. Olson believes that the 30 minutes that are added to the end of the day are a very important 30 minutes to have out of school because it gives students time to be able to focus, clear their mind, and think about what they need to do the rest of the day. Some people have an opinion about the new schedule and others do not mind and are just waiting to see what it will be like.
Shotwell said, “I feel like the main thing is that, when the students are here, they’ll receive the same great education at the same great school, no matter the time school ends or begins.”
By Katie Muratti