Miami-Dade Superintendent Says Figuring Out Later School Start Times Requires 'Balance'

Jan 17, 2020

Public high schools in South Florida start before 8 a.m. — they have for years. But research finds a later beginning is better for teenagers and their sleep cycle.

Miami-Dade schools are considering changing school start times and having the first bell ring later at high schools.

 


On the South Florida Roundup, host Tom Hudson talked about the effort with Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Here's an excerpt of their conversation:

ALBERTO CARVALHO: I think the perfect solution will come as a result of a perfect balance between the benefits, which have been acknowledged from the medical research for students. Balanced out against, quite frankly, a minimal impact to the community. Whether we're talking about working parents, particularly our workforce, teachers. Students' concerns regarding part-time jobs after school or extracurricular, athletic activities. The fact that 24 to 25 percent of our workforce resides in Broward. If our schedule changes, but Broward's does not, then there will be a problem regarding the synchronicity. 

I certainly don't want to be in a position of negatively impacting the income of a lot of our workforce members, whether they are teachers, bus drivers, police officers. Secondly, it is not lost to me, either, in a community where 70 percent of our children live at or below the poverty level. Many students and their families depend on that supplemental income from their part-time jobs. 

TOM HUDSON: Any change to the school start times, would it require changes to collective bargaining agreements that have been made with teachers, bus drivers or other unions? 

In some cases, it may. It's a very important question. We've identified already some areas where we may need to go to the table, but the daily work schedule for our colleagues in our workforce is not dictated by collective bargaining. I think that more important than the policy, the contract, is respect for our workforce. And that's where we want to consider all of the impacts. Rank them in terms of greatest to least impactful and attempt to make modifications as we consider these models. 

You discussed all of the outreach that you're doing. Are you running under any kind of timeline? 

Ideally, I would like to finish the listening tour no later than the end of March, for us to have sufficient time to bring a recommendation, or no recommendation whatsoever for a change, to the board by April-May. To then have sufficient time to inform the community prior to students leaving to their summer vacation.

The transcript of this interview has been edited lightly for brevity and clarity.