Houston ISD wants parents' input on proposal to standardize school day start and end times

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To save about $1.2 million during the next academic year, Houston-school officials are considering standardizing the start and end times of the school day, increasing the average time in class by 19 minutes.

The Houston school board is examining a variety of options to eliminate a $34.7 million budget deficit in the 2012-13 academic year.


“Under this plan, every (Houston Independent School District) school would have an instructional day that is seven and a half hours long,” HISD spokesman Jason Spencer said in a statement released this morning, “Or a total of seven full days of extra instruction time over the course of the year.

The district would like to hear parents’ opinions on the issue in this online survey.

A similar proposal last year proved controversial and was shot down, but the new plan would have high school students starting an hour later than last year’s version.

The revised schedules would allow bus schedules to become more efficient by enabling drivers to travel more routes than they currently do, said Leo Bobadilla, the district’s chief operating officer said during a Thursday meeting.

HISD schools currently have about 20 different start and end times, Spencer said in the statement.

Under the proposed plan, schools would operate on the following bell schedule:

  • About half of all elementary schools would operate from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • About half of all elementary schools would operate from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • All middle schools would operate from 7:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
  • All high schools would operate from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

“Starting high school classes later in the day is supported by scientific research that shows teens learn better when they’re able to sleep later in the morning,” Spencer said in the statement.

District officials will hold community meetings during the upcoming weeks, Spencer said. “And principals will be asked to meet with their communities to gather even more input.”

HISD administrators plan to make a formal proposal to the school board by May 17.

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Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

Photo by flickr user @bastique, used under a Creative Commons license. 

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