Volusia County adjusting school start times

Big changes are coming for students in Volusia County, as some schools are getting their start times pushed back.

The decision was made in a heated special school board meeting, ending with a lot of upset teachers who say their voices weren’t heard.  Now, high schools and middle schools in Volusia County will start later, beginning next school year.

“At the end of the day, as you heard me say over and over again, we got to do what's best for the students,” said Volusia County Schools board chairman Carl Persis.

The high school day will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; the middle school day will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.; and elementary schools will run from 7:50 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The start time for high schools is an hour later than they start now. There is also a later start time for middle schools. Elementary schools will start around the same time but will add an extra 30 minutes to their day, to allow for state-mandated recess.

The decision fired up some parents and teachers.  Teachers say there are too many changes already happening next year with some new curriculum and new payroll and student information systems.

“We cannot take anymore. We cannot do all of these things and do any of them well,” said Volusia United Educators President Elizabeth Albert.

Studies show a later start time is better for student learning. The board agonized over whether to push off the vote for another year but ultimate passed it 3-2.

“If we're saying it's right for kids now, then why would we wait?” asked Persis.

“I think that what's going to happen ultimately is that the children in our district will suffer,” said Albert.

Teachers and the district admit there are a lot of details they need to iron out for this to happen by next school year, including busing and how the elementary schools will use the extra time.