Florida House on verge of passing bill to push back public school start times

If signed into law, changes would have to go into effect by July 2026.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The House is poised to pass a measure that would push back school start times for many Florida high-school students, with the bill’s sponsor saying it is an effort to improve student performance and mental health.

A vote is expected Friday, after the House took up the bill (HB 733) during a floor session Thursday.

Under the bill, middle schools would be prohibited from beginning the “instructional day” before 8 a.m. and high-schools would be barred from starting earlier than 8:30 a.m. The changes would have to go into effect by July 2026.

High schools in Florida have an average start time of 7:47 a.m., according to the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.

Bill sponsor John Temple, R-Wildwood, pointed to potential benefits of later start times.

“The science clearly shows that if students in middle and high school get more sleep, that has a positive impact not only on academics, but their mental health,” Temple said.

Some Democrats questioned how the proposed changes would affect school districts and parents.

“Is there any exception for economies like ours where this actually might be very difficult for families to adapt to because the parents are already at work during that time and we don’t want the kid to be home alone while waiting for the bus to arrive?” Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, asked.

Temple said schools would have three years to carry out the changes.

A similar Senate bill (SB 1112) would need approval from two committees before it could be considered by the full Senate.

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