Tampa Bay Schools Will Shift to Later Start Times in 2026

Tampa Bay Schools Will Shift to Later Start Times in 2026

Following the signing of a measure by Governor RON DESANTIS, the start of the school day for a significant number of high school students will be delayed in the future.

During the legislative session that came to a conclusion earlier this month, legislators voted to approve the bill (also known as HB 733).

It will be against the law for middle schools to start the “instructional day” any sooner than 8 o’clock in the morning, and it will be illegal for high schools to begin the school day any earlier than 8:30 o’clock in the morning.

The new start times will be mandated to go into effect no later than July 2026, providing school districts with three years to formulate implementation strategies.

Thousands of kids at dozens of schools in the Tampa Bay area will be impacted as a result of the legislation that DeSantis signed into law on Friday.

The 17 traditional high schools that make up the Pinellas County school district all begin their days at 7:35 or early. Ten of the seventeen high schools in Pasco County begin their day at 7:16 a.m. or earlier, and another five begin between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

There are five high schools in Hernando County, and all of them begin their day at 7:20 a.m. or earlier. In Pasco, six of the 17 middle schools begin their day before 8 a.m.

The majority of middle schools in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties begin their day after 9:30 a.m. and hence would not be impacted, provided that their present start times are maintained. The same holds true for Hernando middle schools, which begin their days at 9:10 a.m., and Hillsborough high schools, which began their days at 8:30 a.m. in 2017, respectively.

According to data provided by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability of the Florida Legislature, around 48 percent of the state’s public high schools begin the school day before 7:30 in the morning.

Another 19 percent of high schools begin their day between 7:30 and 7:59 in the morning. Studies have been cited by those in favor of the bill as evidence that later starts hours for high schools would be beneficial to students because it would give them more time to sleep.

During the session, the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, Republican Danny Burgess of Zephyrhills, stated that “what we’re doing now” with earlier start times is not what is best for our children, especially the teens.

“It’s the ‘how’ that can be the difficult challenge, as well as the logistics of that and how we make this happen,” the speaker said.

Concerns have been raised, however, regarding matters such as the logistics of student transportation and the impact that later school start times could have on working parents.


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