Florida Bill Means Later School Start Times For Tampa Bay Students
Florida bill means later school start times for Tampa Bay students. Middle and high school students may soon get more sleep each morning if a proposed bill is approved and signed into law. State Rep. John Paul Temple, a Wildwood Republican, filed a bill that would require later start times for most middle and high schools in the state. The bill, known as House Bill 733, mandates that middle schools begin classes no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The bill would take effect in July 2026 to give schools and families time to prepare.
This legislation would affect the daily schedules of thousands of families in Tampa Bay area public schools. The issue has been a topic of debate for years in school districts throughout the state. Some counties, such as Hillsborough, have already moved their high school start times to 8:30 a.m. citing studies linking sleep deprivation among teens to obesity and other problems. However, other counties, such as Pinellas, have not altered their times, citing difficulties in redesigning bus schedules.
While the legislation may seem like a good idea on the surface, it’s not without its complications. For example, families with elementary students raised concerns about having the youngest children out waiting for buses before dawn. The chairperson of the Pasco County School Board, Megan Harding, noted that decisions to alter bell schedules are filled with both emotion and logistics and that a change forced by the state Legislature would prompt a wave of concerns.
The bill has not yet been assigned to any committees and does not have a Senate companion. However, it is expected to have some traction as it was the sole subject of the House subcommittee this week. The interest and feedback among parents will be high, and passionate, if the legislation advances. The bottom line, as noted by a Pinellas County parent school activist, is that the issue is complicated.
The proposed bill to require later start times for Florida middle and high schools may bring about more sleep for students, but it is not without its complications. The interest and feedback from parents will be high and passionate if the legislation advances. It remains to be seen how this bill will play out, but one thing is for certain, it’s a big deal. TBT