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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Early release day, new start times for Pinellas students

While most of the discussion at last night’s Pinellas School Board meeting concerned the impact of an “early release day” on Wednesdays to give teachers dedicated planning time, the board also approved new start times for middle and elementary schools.

(Contrary to what we reported in today’s paper, there will be no change to high school start times; that information appeared on an early version of the agenda that changed just as board members were taking their seats at the table. No one thought to inform us of the change.)

All middle schools, with the exception of the fundamentals, will open at 9:30 a.m. That’s 8 minutes earlier than this year’s start time.

All elementary schools except for the fundamentals and two others – Cross Bayou and Walsingham – will open at 8:35 a.m., a shift of 5 to 15 minutes for most of them. But for 10 schools, the start time will be pushed back an hour and 10 minutes.

Those schools, which currently open at 7:45, are: Azalea, Belleair, Fuguitt, High Point, McMullen-Booth, Pinellas Park, Ridgecrest, Shore Acres, Skycrest and Starkey.

Deputy superintendent Harry Brown said the changes are being made to save transportation costs. The district hopes to eliminate as many as 100 bus routes next year, Brown said.

For parents still confused about the “early release day” -- and who could blame them? -- here's what will happen in a nutshell.

On Wednesdays, students at all schools will be released one hour and 15 minutes earlier than on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. An extra 15 minutes will be added to those four days to make up the difference.

What that means is that elementary schools, except for Cross Bayou, Walsingham, and the fundamentals, will let out at 1:35 p.m. on Wednesdays. On the other four days, the day will end at 2:50 p.m.

Middle schools, with the exception of the fundamentals, will let out at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and at 4:15 p.m. on the other four days.

For high schoolers, the day will end at 12:35 p.m. on Wednesdays and at 1:50 p.m. on the other four days.

For the full list of start and end times, as well as the times school will end on “early release Wednesdays,” go to the school district's Web site

Some parents are still debating last night's meeting over at our parenting blog Whoa, Momma! You can join the debate here

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:24am]


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