VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Summer vacation is almost over and the Smith family is looking forward to Volusia County's new school schedule that starts on Monday.
"It's going to be a lot better. I get to sleep in a little bit later," parent Tiffany Smith said.
This year elementary school students will have an added 30 minutes to their day.
Elementary students will be in class from 7:50 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Middle schools will now start at 9:30 a.m. and dismissal is at 4:15 p.m.
High schools will now start at 8:30 a.m. and dismissal is 3:30 p.m.
The school district said the added time for elementary schools will fulfill a legislative requirement of having recess every day and it allows more planning time for teachers.
"As a result of adding 30 minutes to the day, we knew we were going to have to make changes to bell times because of transportation needs," interim Chief Academic Officer Rachel Hazel said.
Hazel said research helped the school board members decide on later start times for students in middle and high school.
"We see an increase of attendance and again, this is not our own research, this was more national based research about the benefits of allowing our teenage students to sleep later," Hazel said. "Our ultimate goal is to make the transition as smooth as possible."
The school district also created a "Before the Bell" program at all middle schools. The program will help families who need their children to be dropped off earlier rather than later. Students can be dropped off as early as 6:30 a.m. and participate in homework or other school activities.
The new bell schedule will also improve bus transportation, according to Hazel, with more efficient routing.
"Our main focus is always on student learning and we're hoping that with the implementation of these new schedules, that focus will remain the main focus and will allow everyone the time they need to continue to increase student learning," said Hazel.