Lawmakers pushing for later school start time

High school students said to reach peak performance later

Shopping early can get you through the store faster and help you spend less.
Shopping early can get you through the store faster and help you spend less.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Some state lawmakers want high school students to hit the snooze button and sleep in a little later before heading to school, but educators are on the fence for a number of reasons.

By the time students are getting off of the school bus, they're usually wide awake. But keeping high school students alert first thing in the morning can be a struggle.

"It's a better learning environment if we can start just a little bit later in the day," said Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Gaetz filed House Bill 67 earlier this week. It would prohibit any Florida high school from starting earlier than 8 a.m.

"We have to value the quality of the educational experience," Gaetz said.

But the bill has already already stirred concern among educators and other lawmakers.

There's only so many hours in the school day which means that's if its not high school students catching the bus first thing in the morning, it may be Florida's youngest students.

"You may have to force elementary students to stand on the side of the road in the dark in early morning hours waiting for the bus," Sen. Bill Montford said.

Another concern is local control. School boards want to be able to decide what time to start the school day, and not have mandatory requirements from lawmakers in Tallahassee.

"Florida Legislature should do as little as we can in dictating to local governments what rules and laws should be," Montford said.

The bill also says Florida schools wouldn't be able to start earlier than two weeks before Labor Day – something that has been in effect since the '07-'08 school year. One thing lawmakers and educators agreed on is that a later start time is good for the learning environment for high school students.

"They reach their peak performance a little bit later in the morning," Educator David Worrell said.

But concerns may outweigh the things where everyone sees eye to eye. If the bill makes it out of both chambers next spring, and signed by the governor, it would go into effect next summer.