POLL: Orange County Public Schools want your input on school start times

District to host community meetings through October

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public Schools is considering changing school start times and will be hosting its first community meetings Wednesday for feedback.

District officials will be at Lake Nona and Evans High School at 6 p.m. in their respective media centers. Some parents have already sounded off, concerned about the options and how they would impact their students' lifestyle.

Currently, high schools start at 7:20 a.m. and wrap up at 2:20 p.m. Class at elementary schools and K-8 centers begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. Middle school starts the latest at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 3:57 p.m.

OCPS has presented three options to push start times back. The change would be to help improve grades and allow high schools start later. Some parents say switching school start times could be a burden on parents and believe students will struggle.

"The kids, I can tell you as a middle school teacher by 3 p.m. these kids are already starting to wander," Diane Hodgman, a parent and teacher said.

Hodgman said as an educator, she believes start times are important to consider, but so are school end times.

"When we have 30/30 for bad weather then you're talking about kids getting on buses at 5 or 6 o'clock, which puts them in the dark walking home, to me it becomes a really dangerous situation," Hodgman said.

Meanwhile, some parents said later school start times would be beneficial for students in the classroom. One mother said the current start times are early, and the time change would be a welcomed change.

"Something I'm not looking forward to as a parent is trying to drag my child out of bed in the wee hours of the morning, occasionally even before the sun is up, depending on the season, and getting her ready for school when neither her mind or body are functional for several hours after," Amber Hayes, a parent said.

Option A would push start times back 20 minutes.
High schools: 7:40 a.m.- 2:40 a.m.
Middle schools: 9:50 a.m.-4:17 p.m.
Elementary schools and K-8 centers: 9:05 a.m.-3:20 p.m.

Option B would push start times 40 minutes.
High schools: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Middle schools: 10:10 a.m.-4:37 p.m.
Elementary schools and K-8 centers: 9:25 a.m.-3:40 p.m.

Option C adjusts times accordingly:
High schools: 8:45 a.m.-3:45 a.m.
Middle schools: 10:15 a.m.-4:42 p.m.
Elementary schools and K-8 centers: 8 a.m.-2:15 p.m.

Parents can also decide to keep the current school start times. The district is encouraging everyone to watch its school start times presentation and to take its online survey

Below is a list of community meetings. All meetings will be held in the media center at 6 p.m. unless noted otherwise.

Sept. 19 - Ocoee High School (6:30 p.m.)
Oct. 10 - Oak Ridge High School
Oct. 10 - Timber Creek
Oct. 14 - Edgewater High School
Oct. 15 - Cypress Creek High School
Oct. 29 - Winter Park 9th Grade Center
Oct. 29 - Jones High School
Oct. 30 - Olympia High School
Oct. 30 - East River High School

Which option do you like the best? Let us know in our poll below.

About the Author: