School start times to be pushed back across Florida

by | May 15, 2023

  • House Bill 733, signed into law on Friday, mandates later school start times, with middle schools starting no earlier than 8 A.M. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 A.M.
  • The bill applies to both public and charter schools and includes requirements to educate parents, students, teachers, and administrators about the negative effects of sleep deprivation and the benefits of a later start time.
  • The bill is supported by research showing that inadequate sleep negatively impacts teenagers and that sufficient sleep can improve health, safety, and academic success.

House Bill 733, filed by Rep. John Temple, was signed into law on Friday, mandating a change to school start times in Florida.

Under the measure’s purview, middle school classes cannot begin earlier than 8 A.M. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 A.M. School districts have until July 2026 to enforce the legislation.

The bill applies to both public and charter schools, also requiring district school boards to educate parents, students, teachers, and administrators about the negative effects of sleep deprivation on middle and high school students, as well as the benefits of a later school start time.

According to research conducted by The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) school start times vary across the state and even within school districts.

OPPAGA found that for Florida public schools, on average, high schools begin at 7:47 A.M., elementary schools begin at 8:14 A.M., and middle schools begin at 9:06 A.M. For charter schools, OPPAGA also found that, on average, charter high schools begin at 7:44 A.M., charter elementary schools begin at 8:08 A.M., and charter middle schools begin at 8:09 A.M.

The filing was made in February after the House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee, which Temple serves on, received a presentation on the effects of sleep loss in teens and young adults.

During the presentation, experts referred to scientific studies that revealed most American teenagers do not receive enough sleep on a consistent basis. A series of pediatricians also informed lawmakers that a lack of sleep actively contributes to metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes, systematic inflation, and mental or behavioral health issues.

“We know that sleep is food for our brains and contributes to important cognitive and performance-related functions that we undertake every day,” added Rep. Kaylee Tuck, chairwoman of the committee. “Sleep for adolescents is even more important as we consider that their sleep patterns undergo changes in their teenage years and many just don’t get enough.”

Lawmakers also viewed data showing that satisfactory sleep patterns in teenagers can be linked to a lower rate of automobile accidents, alcohol, and drug consumption.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which backs the bill, recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as an “important public health issue,” claiming that it significantly affects the health and safety, as well as the academic success, of middle and high school students. The group contends that later school start times are an effective measure to combat chronic sleep loss issues.

“Teens need to learn about the role of sleep and the impact of the deficits affecting them,” said Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom of AAP. “Administrators and teachers need to discuss how the sleep needs of students interact with school activities. When we’re making decisions on education, we need to focus on the child, not the system.”

1 Comment

  1. Diana

    Wow, these are very significant changes, I would even say colossal, because a person gets used to one and it is very difficult to switch to the other, which was also a challenge when I needed to quickly redesign presentation, which was especially difficult for me because I was given very little time to do it and, accordingly, the quality of execution could be lower than it should be. So I don’t really understand such drastic changes that are not necessary.

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