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HISD moves to uniform start and end times for school days

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Dissmisal at Wheatley

School days in Houston’s 300 schools would start and end at uniform times beginning this fall if school board members approve proposed changes Thursday.

Right now, students in the Houston Independent School District begin their day at 19 different times — as early as 7:30 a.m. and as late at 9 a.m. — and end their day at 21 different times, ranging from 2:30 to 4 p.m. for non-alternative schools.

For instance, school lets out at Yates High School at 3 p.m. each day, while the final bell rings at Wheatley High at 4 p.m.

Creating uniform start and end times would mean fewer routes for buses, saving more than $1 million, the district says.

Under the proposal, elementary schools would start at 7:30 or 8:30 a.m. and end at 2:45 or 3:45 p.m., resulting in a seven-hour, 15-minute instructional day.

For some schools, the change will mean more instruction time, and for some others, less instructional time. The move would shift start and end times at some HISD schools by as much as an hour-and-a-half earlier or later. (View the proposed changes per elementary school here.)

For middle and high schools, the proposed changes would allow for seven-and-a-half hours of instructional time. All high schools would start at 7:45 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m. All middle schools would start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 4:15 p.m. (View the proposed changes for middle schools here and high schools here.)

HISD trustees are expected to give the proposed changes final approval Thursday.

The school system is attempting to save money as it prepares for anticipated budget cuts of up to $348 million a year from the state.

HISD trustees have already approved eliminating more than 250 central office staff positions and are also considering closing four elementary schools, Love, McDade, Grimes and Rhoads, as well as possibly consolidating more than 10 other elementary and middle schools.

Trustees are expected to discuss the proposed bell schedule changes Monday evening at a board workshop. Follow @TexasWatchdog on Twitter for live updates from the workshop Monday and the board meeting Thursday evening.

Contact Lynn Walsh at 713-228-2850 or or on Twitter at @lwalsh.

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Photo: Students pile out of Wheatley High School in Houston’s Fifth Ward when the final bell rings at 4 p.m. on a recent spring day. Jennifer Peebles/Texas Watchdog.

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