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Orange County Public Schools’ Chair Teresa Jacobs Says They’ll Survey Parents About New Start Times

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Parents can take the survey now. Photo: OCPS News Twitter

Orange County Public Schools is considering a potential change in start times. 

School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs told administrators and teachers at a breakfast in Orlando this morning that parents will be surveyed about school start times.

Jacobs says the school district would like to push back start times for high schoolers based on research that shows teens’ brains require more sleep and are wired to stay awake later.

The only problem? 

She says the state is under funding the district’s busing system which means they have to use the same buses at different points in the day for all their students. 

“Moving high school start times back by say an hour would require significant changes to either elementary or middle school schedules or both.”

Jacobs says district-wide start time changes haven’t worked so far. A decade ago a plan to swap middle and high school start times didn’t go through after parents complained. 

She says an additional $36 million dollars in state funding would be needed to make the busing changes.

But she says the single greatest challenge facing the district is still teacher pay.

She said that millages weren’t renewed for the school system which has affected their ability to give teachers a big enough raise. 

“This year alone the loss was approximately $134 million dollars. That’s equivalent to an 11 percent across-the-board raise that we could be offering our employees today in addition to the raise we’ve already offered.”

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins says Orange County Public Schools are also working to improve school safety. 

She says parents and students can now use an app called Fortify FL to alert school security officers of potential threats and they’ve increased support for students experiencing a mental health crisis.

“All middle and high schools have a full-time SAFE coordinator and our 20 traditional high schools now also have a full-time social worker working directly with students. And every elementary school has been allocated a full-time school counselor position.”

Jenkins says employees at every school are receiving training to identify students that might benefit from this counseling. 

She says teachers at 24 schools will get special training to work with students who have experienced trauma like abuse and other violence at home.

If you’d like to listen to the story, please click on the clip.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »