Pro & Con: Saved by the Bell?

New bell schedule raises student concerns while also providing new benefits.


Tampa Bay Times

Yacob Reyes and Austin Carlton


Pro by Yacob Reyes

How often have you dreaded waking up Monday morning to attend school before the sun rises? How often have you wished you could press the snooze button on your alarm and get just one more hour of sleep? How often have you struggled with keeping awake during first period? If you’re a student like myself, the answer to most of these questions is often.

Beginning this school year, Gaither now begins classes at 8:30 a.m., an hour later than in years past.

This change in schedule, though disconcerting at first glance provides greater improvement to the schedule we’ve all grown accustomed to.

One major problem in recent years is that many teens have become increasingly more sleep-deprived, which research says can lead to obesity and other problems.

A report released by The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teens get between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep. The report also recommends that classes should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

With instruction beginning at 7:30 a.m., it’s difficult to manage getting a good night’s sleep, eating a nutritional breakfast and all the other things that would constitute as healthy behavior for a student while also trying to be on time.

So difficult that the district estimates that over 12,000 students were late to school everyday last year, which constitutes for hundreds of minutes of lost instruction.

I myself have joined that number on multiple occasions, and with Gaither’s strict policies on tardiness it’s like adding insult to injury.

What value is there in having bodies at desks, if the students won’t be as engaged due to exhaustion and other students simply won’t be there?

Luckily, our new bell schedule features times that better resolves these issues and provides a solution to student dilemmas.

Although it has been met with a mixed reaction from students and parents alike, last year nearly 57,000 people responded to a Bell Schedule Survey launched by our district with our current bell schedule being named the winner.

From this we can see that this change, which ultimately saved the district nearly $2 million, will not only improve budget concerns, but also student wellbeing and will aid them in their daily strive towards academic success.


Con by Austin Carlton

 This school year students throughout Hillsborough County will be adjusting to going back to school as well as a new bell schedule. School now starts at 8:30 a.m. and endat 3:25 p.m. Even though school starts and ends later, there is ultimately a decrease in time for students to learn.

Though a later start time gives students, faculty and staff a chance to sleep in, the later ending time seems to be causing more harm than good. Many students have jobs, after-school responsibilities and even extracurricular activities for school that would all have to be scheduled for later times since we are released from school later. In previous years students could go to work as early as 3:30 p.m., but since school now ends at about that time the earliest students could go to their jobs would be at 4 p.m. Factoring in traffic, it could be even later than that.  

Apart from keeping students and employees on campus later, the time given to students between classes has been reduced by one minute. Even though one minute doesn’t seem like much time, it’s one minute less that students and teachers can go to the restroom or to their lockers. Considering the fact that students cannot use the restroom 10 minutes after the period starts or 10 minutes before it ends, nor use the bathroom during lunch periods or eighth period, it makes it rather difficult for students and teachers to find time to relieve themselves without missing out on class time.  

Changing the bell schedule was allegedly supposed to give money back to the school district, more specifically money given back to classrooms, but as of right now no change has been made. However, it is still very early in the school year so there is time for changes to be made.  

The main reason for the change of the bell schedule was to decrease the amount of late buses. While sensible, a change of the schedule does not mean there will be a change in traffic. It is assumed that this new schedule will help to reduce the amount of tardy students but less time between classes causes more tardies, so this seems to be counterproductive. However, time will tell if this idea is successful.  

This is the first change in bell schedules that has been made in many years, so this schedule may be around for years to come or may contrarily be subject to change in following years if it proves to be ineffective. Now that a full week of school has gone by with the new bell schedule in place most school attendees have adjusted to the change, and as of right now there do not appear to be any changes to the schedule for the future.