Gov. DeSantis signs bill impacting school start times

FILE - A high school student walks through a hallway. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill that will lead to many high-school students having later school start times in the future. 

Lawmakers passed the bill (HB 733) during the legislative session that ended last week. It will prevent middle schools from beginning the "instructional day" earlier than 8 a.m., while high schools will be barred from starting the school day before 8:30 a.m. 

The start times will be required to take effect by July 2026, giving school districts three years to develop plans. 

About 48% of Florida’s public high schools start school before 7:30 a.m., according to the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. Another 19% of high schools start between 7:30 a.m. and 7:59 a.m. 

Supporters of the bill have pointed to studies that say later start times would benefit high-school students. 

"What we’re doing now (with earlier start times) is not what’s best for our kids, for the adolescents especially," Senate bill sponsor Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, said during the session. "It’s the ‘how’ that can be the hard challenge and the logistics of that and how we make this happen." 

But the bill has led to concerns about issues such as student transportation and how working parents would be affected by later school start times.