Florida bill pushing back middle and high school start times ready for floor vote in the House

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Florida lawmakers are one step closer to mandating later start times for middle and high schools throughout the state.


Clay County mother Brittney Riley knows her high school daughter struggles to get enough sleep with classes starting at 7:20 a.m.

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“Because when they get here they’re sleepy still. So, you know, and it’s dark and so that just kind of puts you in that sleepy type of mood,” Riley said.

High school start times in Northeast Florida range from 7:15 a.m. at the earliest in Duval to as late as 9:30 a.m. in St. Johns.

Most middle schools start a 9 a.m. or later, with St Johns being the only exception starting at 7:30 a.m.

But under the legislation moving in the Florida Legislature many of those start times would be pushed back.

“The science in very clear, that our middle school and high school students need 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep,” House sponsor State Representative John Paul Temple (R-The Villages) said.

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The bill would require school districts to start middle schools no earlier than 8 AM and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. starting in 2026.

Supporters of the idea have cited studies that have shown the extra hour of sleep helps improve students’ mental health and even test scores.

But as State Representative Kimberly Daniels (D-Jacksonville) pointed out in the bill’s final committee stop in the House Thursday, some districts like Duval, have raised concerns about the logistics and cost it would take to implement the proposal.

“My district leadership has contacted me over and over again and I’m gonna have to be down on this legislation right now,” Daniels said.

As for Riley, her daughter would be off to college by the time the change would take effect, but she said she’d be willing to make the changes to her schedule if it could benefit her daughter’s academic success.

“If it helps our kids, I mean I think we can adjust to that a lot better,” Riley said.

Rep Temple explained other education bills moving this year seek to address transportation and funding issues to make the transition to a later start time smoother for districts.

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The bill is ready for a floor vote in the House and is slated to get its first hearing in the Senate next week.

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