State to study high school start times
Before the Florida legislative session started, state Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach was gung-ho to ban high schools from starting classes before 8 a.m. With a later start time, Gaetz reasoned, "the students will learn better."
He filed a bill to make the mandate in late September. It became the subject of much debate and criticism, particularly from school officials who worried about the financial burden of such a rule, not to mention the effect on local control of such decisions. Safety was another concern.
"With all due respect, surely there are more significant issues in the state of Florida than micro-managing school starting dates and now school starting times...?" Sumter superintendent Richard Shirley wrote in a memo to his colleagues.
Gaetz quietly pulled his bill from consideration in February, just days before the start of session. But the issue is not dead.
The Legislature has instructed its Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to research high school start times. Such reviews usually come into play when lawmakers seek to bolster their ideas for future legislative action.
Superintendents received a letter on May 1 asking for information about what times their high schools began and ended classes in 2011-12 and 2012-13, to go along with current year information. OPPAGA also plans to get more in-depth information from selected counties as part of its study.
Keep an eye out for the findings, probably in the late summer or fall. It could have implications for the future.