Hillsborough County Schools has asked for input from parents. The Bell Schedule Simulator states “…A survey regarding bell times will be sent to all families during the month of September.” We did not receive any information sent from the county on a simulator or survey. We did discover the survey after searching the HCPS website for an update on the status of bell times.
- The bell simulator asked parents to run simulations but to “make sure the bell times are at least one hour apart for each school type”. This, the hour-apart-school-start-time, “standard”, forces more optimal bell times for students and families to be excluded.
Does a “standard” really make sense for all districts in the country? Is it really a standard or is a group just calling it a “standard”? What makes it a “standard”? Do most schools across the state actually use this “standard” for all their times? Some of these questions are discussed in the article Does Applying a Standard Make Sense?
- The bell schedule survey is here.
How many other parents are not aware that this survey exists? This is a topic important to many families. Like the limited input requested from parents in the focus groups, parents might not be adequately informed. Is this by design?
Will the proposed changes really secure instructional minutes for everyone? Will buses still be late because of:
- the unintended consequences of bus parking provisions,
- staffing problems, and
- high absenteeism rates?
Are school start and end times being moved (to attempt hour-apart-school-start-times) causing students and families to be burdened with hiding the above late bus problems?
HCPS has a limited benchmarking chart that supports their desired changes here. A comprehensive benchmarking by county (also considering size and district performance) was published here. The research summarized in the comprehensive chart indicates that districts are not all utilizing this hour-apart-school-start-time.
There are other bell schedule alternatives, like example 1a, that improves the current start time between high and elementary schools. That alternative might significantly reduce morning delays if combined with changes to improve staffing, absenteeism, and bus parking provisions.