Bell schedule drama: How your life is going to change next school year

The controversial bell schedule for the 2018-19 school year has high school starting an hour later.


The School Board meeting on October 17, 2017 begins with each of the district representatives sitting beside Jeff Eakins, school superintendent.

            Angered, confused, and hopeful parents and teachers alike flocked to the Hillsborough County School Board meeting for their opinions to be heard. Bus drivers were in tears, their voices quaking as they told their stories of how much they love the students they drive. The topic looming in the minds of each attendant was the controversial bus schedule. The current bell schedule had been criticized since the moment it was announced, most angry about the lack of their input in the decision. With the current schedule, a whopping number of 12,000 students arrive late every day, “Sometimes I miss when the teacher talks… I miss what she says,” Angeling Ramos says in a promotional video for the new bus schedule. Due to this, school superintendent Jeff Eakins proposed a new schedule. The change should save about 2.5 million dollars for the school district. The new schedule also brings the promise of every child arriving on time. However, some still find fault in the new schedule.

            Parents, especially those with elementary school students, criticize the new bell schedule. The reason for their disapproval is the fact that elementary schools start an hour prior to high school and almost two hours before middle schools. Now, their first bell rings at 7:40, and their last at 1:55. Disjointed to their elementary school counterparts, magnet elementary school’s will not begin until 8:45 and end at 3:00.

            Despite the criticism, many high schoolers are pleased with the new bell schedule that will be in place for the 2018-2019 school year. Opposed to this

The Hillsborough County School Board gathers to discuss the most important issues on the minds and hearts of students, teachers, bus drivers, and parents.

year’s start time of 7:33, a high schooler’s day will begin at 8:30 and end at 3:25. The later start time is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics who agree that the later start time would provide more sleep time for students. Additional hours of sleep have many benefits, such as clearer thinking, improve attendance, and improve graduation rates. The last two being strong components in the Hillsborough County School District’s overlying goal.

            Although magnet middle schools share their start and end times with high school, traditional middle schools start at 9:25 am and end at 4:20 pm. This makes them the latest to be dismissed or to arrive out of all of the other categories.

People do have mixed emotions about the new schedule. No choice received a majority of the vote. However, this is not unlikely to do the number of voters and the amount options. Although the survey was conducted by 76,000 people, only about 57,000 indicated a preference on the survey. However, it could be possible for any one of those 57,000 to have voted on the bell schedule multiple times, although it is unmeasurable how many people did this- or if it even happened at all. There were six models that could have been voted on, named after their respective letters. Model A received the most votes, with 30% of voters choosing it. The runner up had weak 18% of voters.

Perhaps not everyone agrees with the new schedule, but it will be in effect during the entirety of the 2018-2019 school year. The controversy and uncertainty that had led up to the bell schedule change may be silenced now, but the following school year will prove if the new schedule is as superb as the school board seems to think. Chairwoman Cindy Stuart is “pleasantly surprised,” and time will tell if students, parents, drivers, and teachers agree.