School District of Philadelphia exploring changes to bell schedule, superintendent says

The School District of Philadelphia on Thursday said it is exploring adjustments to next year's bell schedule that would narrow start times across the district and help improve bus routes to and from school. 

During his weekly briefing with the press, Superintendent Dr. William Hite said the district has over 20 different start times for students. The district is considering a proposal that would make the school day begin at either 7:30 a.m., 8:15 a.m., or 9 a.m.

Hite said the district has not made any decisions on a modified bell schedule and will seek input before making any changes. He pointed out that the proposed change was included in the district's plans last August and has since been used by the Archdioceses and charter schools during their return to in-person learning.

"We realize that making needed changes to bell schedules has many implications for staff, students and families, so we are in the process of getting input from school leaders," Hite said.

A large part of the proposed shift to a three-tiered start schedule deals with bus route efficiency and staffing challenges faced by transportation companies are still managing. Under the proposal, Hite said students will spend less time aboard a bus due to streamlined routes that will help buses make up to three runs a day.

The district will hold a series of virtual focus groups for families to voice their feedback on the proposed changes in the future, according to Hite.

Some schools have already voiced their disapproval of the district's new bell schedule. One school leader told FOX 29's Jennifer Joyce that his school voted to dispute the plan during an emergency meeting this week. 

"It’s going to be hard enough to come back after a year of not being in school," special education teacher David Malone said. "Now trying to get 100 percent back in school and reacclimate to the day is going to be difficult, on top of that, adding the stress trying to figure out what time to drop off or pick up."

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said there is a lot of frustration and, in some cases, anger." He maintained that the union will continue to work with the district to try to resolve their differences."



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