Did you know that a new state law will soon drastically change start times for schools?

It’s true, and this change will impact our entire community, including students, their families, school staff, afterschool programs, businesses, and so many more!

By July 1, 2026, school districts must start middle school classes after 8 a.m. and high school classes at 8:30 a.m. or later.

The Florida legislature recently passed this state-mandated change in school start times. All school districts must adjust their schedules to comply with the law. House Bill 733 — Middle School and High School Start Times

The new school start times will not go into effect until the 2026-2027 school year.

However, many preparations must still be made for a smooth transition. For instance, the shift in middle and high school start times will likely impact elementary school hours, too.

Polk County Public Schools wants all stakeholders to share their insights and help prepare for this upcoming shift in school start times. And you are welcome to attend!

The District Advisory Council, a volunteer-based group, hosts the Education Town Hall series to share information on this important topic.

DAC members will be joined by a panel of experts in education and school operations to answer questions and collect feedback from the public.

The event will be held from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

Monday, March 25 – Jim Miles Professional Development Center, 4270 Wallace Rd, Lakeland

Thursday, March 28 – Stuart Center
1702 S. Holland Parkway, Bartow

Monday, April 1 – Dream Center of Lakeland
635 W 5th St., Lakeland

Monday, April 8 – AdventHealth Fieldhouse
210 Cypress Gardens Blvd., Winter Haven

Monday, April 22 – Tom Fellows Community Center
207 North Boulevard West, Davenport

Please join us and share your thoughts.

Light refreshments will be available.

Jeanette Crowley
Director, Strategic Planning & Partnerships

Email: jeanette.crowley@polk-fl.net
Phone: (863) 457-4708 x828

What is Parent and Family Engagement?

Parent and Family Engagement is a required component of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.  Section 1116 of the Every Student Succeeds Act under Title I, Part A requires that each local educational agency (LEA) that receives federal funds jointly agree upon, develop in collaboration with and formally distribute a parent and family engagement policy in a format understandable by all parents and families.  Florida school districts and schools that receive Title I federal funds shall in genuine collaboration with parents and families, create a written parent and family engagement policy.  The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that local educational agencies provide ample opportunities for parents and families to actively participate in the development, implementation, and annual review of the parent and family engagement policy (PFEP) by offering flexible dates and meetings times. 

Why Does Parent and Family Engagement Matter?

Research tells us that students with engaged parents and families are more likely to:

  • Learn to read faster (Exhibit faster rates of literacy acquisition.)
  • Have higher grades and test scores.
  • Are promoted and take more challenging classes.
  • Adapt better to school and have better attendance.
  • Have better social skills and behavior.
  • Graduate.
  • Go on to community/technical college or university.

What Can Parents Do to Help Students Thrive in School

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Become An Approved Volunteer!

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Volunteer Program: Each year, hundreds of parents and community members volunteer countless hours in our schools. They serve as classroom volunteers, reading and math tutors, field trip chaperones, mentors, office helpers, and in a wide variety of other roles. For the safety of students and staff, we conduct a background check on each volunteer applicant. To volunteer (or if you have questions), please contact any school office.
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Click on the books below to view the Department of Education's Reading Plan
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Free Book for Students!

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