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Volusia County School Board changes school start times

Elementary students will now start class at 7:50 a.m.

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla.***UPDATE: 7:13 p.m. 3/28/2019***

Volusia County Schools announced new start times for class on Thursday:

  • Elementary school schedule 7:50 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  • Middle school schedule 9:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. 
  • High school Schedule 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

School officials said the new schedule starts in August this year.

***ORIGINAL***

Certain students in Volusia County could get a little more sleep next year if the school board moves ahead with one of three options presented Thursday to change school start times.

School board members met Thursday afternoon to discuss changing school start times after conducting a two-week study enabling more than 23,000 people within the community to weigh in.

The study, conducted by a comittee that included teachers and parents, was designed to gauge opinions on the possible change.

Spruce Creek High School English teacher Kate Cumiskey helped with the study and wants to see high school students begin their day later.

"Their brain function is better later in the day no matter what time they go to sleep," Cumiskey said.

The committee presented the three options that came out of the study on Thursday to the school board.

Current Volusia County school times

Elementary schools: 7:55 a.m. - 2:05 p.m.

Middle schools: 8:56 a.m. - 3:40 p.m.

High schools: 7:30 a.m. - 2:40 p.m.

Option No. 1 to change times

Elementary schools: 7:40 a.m. - 2:20 p.m.

Middle schools: 9:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

High:  8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Option No. 2 to change times

Elementary schools: 7:20 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Middle schools: 8:15 - 3:00 p.m.

High schools: 9:10 a.m. - 4:10 p.m

Option No. 3 to change times

Elementary schools: 8:20 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Middle schools: 9:15 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

High schools: 7:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Option one and two would have high schools start later. Option three was the most favorable but it's the only one that makes high school students start 30 minutes earlier.

A concern that had been mentioned Thursday among board members was the chance of change in daylight saving time and the safety of students waiting at bus stops while it's still dark outside.

Another concern mentioned was transportation.

High school student parent Kathleen White said she heard the options and feels there's no need to disrupt what is already working. 

"There really isn't a good clear cut reason why they're extending the elementary school day. It affects all the children with the transportation issues," White said.

The decision lays in the hands of school board members. Even if the proposal moves forward, Greg Aikin with Volusia County schools said it's not a simple transition.

"Based on the decision this evening, we still have to roll up our sleeves, get back with our community and our committees and see if we can resolve any unforeseen issues that may be out there currently right now," Aikin said.

If approved, the new school start times would begin in Fall 2019. The school board will make the final decision.

News 6 contacted other school districts to find out if they are considering similar changes.

Orange and Seminole County school officials are also discussing a start time change. Sumter, Flagler, Lake and Marion county schools don't have any near future plans to make a change. 

Osceola County school board members voted in February to change the school times for the next school year.

Under the new Osceola County plan, all high schools will start at 7:20 a.m. Elementary school students will report to class at 8:20 a.m. Middle school students will begin the day at 9:20 a.m.

District officials said the new start times will save millions of dollars in busing costs.