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2018-19 New Bell Schedule

Our board has approved a new bell schedule that is based on several rounds of community input.

At our School Board’s request, our district first asked for community input to create possible options, then launched a Bell Schedule Survey that asked the public to choose one of those six schedule options. Nearly 57,000 people responded to choose one of the six options.

The new schedule below is based on the option that was preferred by the most parents, students, and staff who took the Bell Schedule Survey.

This is the general schedule that our district will use for the 2018-2019 school year.

School Type Start Time End Time Early Release Mondays
Elementary School 7:40 am 1:55 pm 12:55 pm
Elementary Magnet School 8:45 am 3:00 pm 2:00 pm
High School 8:30 am 3:25 pm 2:25 pm
Middle and High Magnet School 8:30 am 3:25 pm 2:25 pm
Middle School 9:25 am 4:20 pm 3:20 pm

NOTE: Many district public schools will also have changes to this schedule because of their individual needs. Individual schools' start and end times may change due to the needs of the school.

  • Every student deserves a full day, but the former bell schedule did not allow enough time for buses to complete their routes between schools
  • Because of that, last year, more than 12,000 students were late to school every day – and it was not their fault
  • The new schedule should solve this problem
  • Other bus pickups and drop-offs are also more likely to be on time under the new schedule
  • The results came from a substantial process to gather input from the public
  • Nearly 57,000 people took the district’s Bell Schedule Survey in English or Spanish and voted for a preferred bell schedule
  • The survey was promoted by:
    • Emails, texts, and phone calls in English and Spanish to parents and staff
    • News media stories
    • Multiple social media campaigns
    • oWorking with our partners, including our PTA’s
  • The district also gathered input through:
    • Its Bell Schedule Simulator, which collected possible bell schedule options from 1,800 respondents
    • Three public meetings in our community
    • Forums with students, parents, and other groups of stakeholders
    • Thousands of social media comments
    • Public comments at board meetings
  • In the Bell Schedule Survey, “Option A” was the consensus first choice of nearly all groups of respondents, including parents, students, and staff
    • Option A was chosen by a wide margin over the other five options
    • Option A was preferred by 30% of the respondents; the next-most-popular option got 18% of the votes
    • Our district staff’s reviewed the public’s preferred Option A and looked at how it could be implemented in terms of learning, logistics, and other considerations if the School Board votes to approve it – leading to the proposed bell schedule introduced by Superintendent Eakins
  • When the previous bell schedule was proposed in spring 2017, our School Board heard clearly from stakeholders that they wanted to have more input in the process
  • After multiple rounds of input with nearly 57,000 people choosing a potential bell schedule, this was the community’s preferred option
  • Both the tentative bell schedule discussed in the spring and this proposed bell schedule based on community input would provide enough time for buses to run their routes, solving the problem of thousands of students arriving to school late every day
  • The district staggers start times to maximize the efficiency of our bus fleet. Under this plan, 80 percent of buses could serve three different schools, up from 60 percent now. Starting everyone at the same time would cost the district $136 million more in annual expenses plus $200 million to purchases additional buses.
  • By adjusting the bell schedule, our school bus drivers would be able to transport three tiers of students (elementary, middle, and high school). This shift translates to a cost savings of over $2.5 million dollars for our school district.
  • This is the schedule that was preferred by the public. As our district’s staff studies how we could implement the public’s top choice, we recognize that the earlier start time for elementary schools compared to the current schedule will cause concern for some parents.
  • However – 48 of our elementary and K-8 schools are already starting at 7:45 or earlier, right now.
  • That means about one-third of our schools with elementary-age students already use a schedule like this, because it meets the needs of those schools.
  • The neighborhoods around those schools, and the schools’ staffs, are also used to that timing.
  • There are a few more factors to consider:
    • While the public’s top choice in the Bell Schedule Survey had a 7:30 start time for elementary schools, our district’s staff looked at the logistics involved and were able to propose 7:40 instead. This would allow 50 minutes for buses to run the high school routes that immediately follow elementary school. If elementary schools were to start any later, for example 8:00, there would not be enough time for buses to then run high school routes and get students to high school on time at 8:30.
    • Because buses will start their days on elementary school routes, they’ll be more consistently on-time at their elementary school bus stops
    • In general, magnet school buses will pick up students later in the morning than they do now, which is a significant benefit to many of our magnet students, who had the earliest bus pickup times in our district
    • Elementary school campuses may open earlier than they did, which could help parents who need to get to work
    • We’ll be offering before-school care at a low cost, which gives parents more flexibility to use other transportation options
  • Low-cost before-school care will be offered at all elementary and middle schools that need it, giving parents a much wider timeframe to drive students to school or use other transportation options
  • After-school care will also be available at a low cost at elementary and middle schools that need it
  • Before care and after care is currently offered by Hillsborough Out of School Time (HOST) at many elementary and middle schools. Our goal is to offer this program at all schools where there is a need before the new bell schedule would be implemented. Please visit the HOST (Before and After School Care) to stay informed about options available for families
  • List of Before and After School Programs
  • We are currently working with our community partners to see who may be able to offer our families assistance to offset the cost of the before-school and after-school care
  • Individual school sites will determine drop off times, but they are traditionally 30 minutes before the bell schedule.
  • Our transportation department is currently working on bus routes and schedules. With close to 90,000 students being transported every day, creating a new bus schedule is a massive undertaking. Parents will be notified over the summer, as in years past, via a postcard mailed to your home address. The postcard would include the new bus schedule and bus route. A Parentlink message will also be sent to families.
  • Students may lose a few minutes from middle and high school periods, which would be decided at the school level
  • The new schedule still exceeds state’s requirements for time spent in class and still allows our district to offer a seven-period day with more opportunities for advanced courses like AP, dual enrollment, credit recovery, and electives
  • Thousands more students will now be on time every day under the new schedule because buses will have enough time to run their routes, which would be a significant gain in instructional time for them
  • An additional 20 minutes of planning time would now be available for middle and high school teachers under the proposed schedule at most schools, allowing those teachers more time to develop lessons and review students’ work
  • Elementary teachers generally will not see a significant change in planning time based on the schedule created with community input
  • School sites set their own work schedules, so this will vary from school to school
  • The new schedule that was preferred by the public matches guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics that recommends high schools start at 8:30 or later (source )
  • A Columbia University study found 16-year-olds who got less than six hours of sleep a night were 21% more likely to be obese five years later (source )
  • Additional studies have found that high school students who get enough sleep and start school at 8:30 or later:
    • Have improved attendance and graduation rates, which is one of our district’s strategic goals (source )
    • Have fewer fatal car crashes (source )
    • Contribute to a better-educated and higher-earning workforce (source )
  • We held high school student forums. Students there told us – again and again – that starting high school early has been a real challenge for them.
  • A later high school start has been supported by the president of our teachers’ union, the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association
  • Research from doctors and scientists, as well as community comments at our district’s public meetings and School Board meetings, indicate a preference for a later high school start time, which results in a later end time
  • Athletic directors, coaches, and activity sponsors would have to collaborate to adjust plans
  • Our district staff reviewed the public’s preferred option and looked at how it could be implemented in terms of learning, logistics, and other considerations
  • The resulting bell schedule allows for enough time for buses to drive their routes
  • The survey was marketed widely across the county using direct messages to parents and staff, TV and newspaper coverage, social media, public meetings, and more, resulting in nearly 76,000 participants, with nearly 57,000 of them indicating a preferred schedule option
  • This survey’s results were anonymous. Based on research and past experience, if respondents had been forced to verify their identities, it would likely lead to lower participation because of fear that results would not be anonymous. Also, industry standard methods were implemented to detect and remove multiple submissions from one person.
  • We will continue to maintain our early release days every Monday
  • Charter and private schools set their own schedules, and would not necessarily follow this schedule
  • Teachers will still be expected to work an 8.0 hour work day, but the start and end times for teachers may be different from school to school. Site administrators will set work hours.

Multiple Submissions from a Single Person

  • A decision was made not to require respondents to authenticate themselves using an access code or a unique URL because of the district's desire for input from the entire community, and not just those people for whom we might have a valid email address.
  • Our goal was to solicit as much input as possible, rather than deter participation by requiring respondents to authenticate themselves.
  • To counter any bias that might result from multiple submissions, two approaches were used.
    • First, the survey software used for the survey allows us to enable a setting that limits data capture when a person responds multiple times from a single device.
    • Second, after the survey closed, analysis of the responses received allowed us to identify patterns among IP addresses within the submitted responses. This includes examination of patterns from a single IP address or from a branched IP address during a specified time window.
  • Scholarly research has also shown that on average about 10% of responses to an unauthenticated internet survey are multiple submissions and that this can be reduced to 3% or less using the methods described.

Inferring from the Data

  • It may seem troubling that when you add the response choices within and across the models, you can make the claim that the largest number of people preferred high school first or some other building level before another.
  • The intent of the survey question was for participants to identify the sequence of events within a day that they most preferred. The specific question posed asked the respondent to evaluate which model was preferred. We cannot assume back to the individual building level because this is not what was asked in the question.
  • Had the question been posed differently, for instance "Which building level do you believe should have the earliest start time?" we could definitely draw conclusions about that preference.
  • This phenomenon is referred to as a fallacy of ecological inference (inferring micro attributes from macro data).
  • It is also not statistically appropriate to combine preferences across items where choices include more than 1 item (this is referenced mathematically as Arrow's Theorem), so adding C, D, E, and F together is not valid, because the question is not isolated to the high school start time.
  • The concrete problem here would be, yes, HS starts first, but once you combine those models, what order do elementary and middle fall into? We can't identify this once the data are collapsed because the models vary on these building’s start times.
  • This was intentional, because had we asked about a starting time for each building level in isolation, we would likely have ended up with most preferred options that conflicted with other building levels (for example, proposing all schools start at 8:30 a.m.). The decision had to be made for the sequence of events in the day.

Vote Splitting

  • Vote splitting is a phenomenon that is mathematically impossible to overcome when more than 2 choices are given. This is seen in our own elections as well as survey research. While it may be the case that no single option receives a majority of the votes, outcomes are usually decided by plurality, or the largest share of votes.
  • When we include more than 2 choices in a survey or voting procedure, we also see a phenomenon called “vote splitting” emerge. This means that it is harder for a clear and strong majority to emerge as the number of choice grows.
  • There are many similarities between the models included, where the orders are similar and start times were adjusted by just a few minutes, but according to the input we received following the tentative item last year, these minutes have meaning to our stakeholders.

Options Included

  • Only viable models were included in the survey, which also meant that not every sequence of start times was an option. During our work to develop the survey options, we did explore all viable sequences of events. As it turns out, some sequences are not feasible for the district because of the logistics of providing bus transportation and other factors (i.e., Middle, Elementary, then High or Elementary, Middle, then High).
  • With these sequences removed, there were fewer ordering options left to include in the survey.
  • It is also very common in voting systems or preference studies for individuals to feel that their selection was not reflected or represented in the data at the conclusion of the survey. This results in many people who did not vote for the winning selection. As the number of people participating in a survey grows larger, the impact of any one person’s vote becomes proportionately smaller in the overall results. Remember, the intent of survey research is to synthesize or collect individual choices and give an overall tally of these choices to guide decisions.

In the end, the proposed bell schedule was informed by the survey data, focus groups, community meetings, operational constraints, and a need to provide a full day of instruction to every student.

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