Starting this fall, public school students in Pinellas County can sleep in a little longer.
After months of deliberation, the school board voted 6-1 on Tuesday to move school start times 10-15 minutes later.
Most high school students will go from starting at 7:05 a.m. to 7:20 a.m.
Research shows teenagers have later sleep patterns and could benefit from later start times. Pinellas County Schools spokesperson Lisa Wolf said she hopes the change will give kids some extra rest while also respecting students who don't want to start later.
"We’re trying to balance their needs health-wise with their concerns about wanting to work after school, participate in extra-curriculars, etc," she said.
Wolf said school officials had been informally polling students to help inform their decision and found a mix of those in favor and those against moving back the start of the school day.
While only a brief change, Wolf said the 15 minute delay is a good first step for high school. She added that the district is continuing to look into whether it would be possible to make the start time even later in the future.
Elementary and middle school students will start 10 minutes later this fall at 8:45 a.m. and 9:40 a.m., respectively.
Wolf says the changes will involve a $900,000 effort by the district to improve bus routes.
"One of the needs that we need to do to make later start times a reality is to make sure our transportation and our bus offerings are flowing efficiently," she said.
But Wolf adds the bus improvements likely would have been made regardless of start times.
Pinellas County Schools has posted an updated list of start times for each school in the district.