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Focus Academy Talks About Being Ahead of The Florida House Bill 733 Sleep Curve


Focus Academy Talks About Being Ahead of The Florida House Bill 733 Sleep Curve

House Bill 733, approved in April 2023, states that Florida schools cannot establish a start time any earlier than 8 a.m. for middle schoolers and 8:30 a.m. for high schoolers.

What does this mean to Focus Academy, a charter school in Temple Terrace, established in 2012 by parents of children with special needs?

According to Focus Academy’s Clinical Director Loretta Gallo-Lopez. “We did our research on this issue prior to opening over a decade ago. Data from the CDC’s 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 69% of teens get fewer than eight hours of sleep on school nights, with 30% of students getting less than six hours of sleep each school night. And early high school start times were a major cause of insufficient sleep and led to many high school students’ chronic sleep deprivation.” Based on this research, Focus Academy has had a start time of 8:45 a.m. since its doors opened over 10 years ago, and both parents and students alike have enjoyed the necessary shut-eye to maximize their experience at the school “Where Education Meets Life™.”

The bill sponsors have cited an American Academy of Pediatrics Study that states middle and high school-aged students don’t get enough sleep, which affects academic success. High school students, the primary audience of this bill, typically need 8-10 hours of sleep. Today, over 70% of students in reporting are not getting the sleep they need.

According to Lopez, Focus Academy’s vision and mission had to be near perfect and led by scientific facts and figures, so the new public charter school would create an ideal environment for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Adequate sleep was one of the top priorities, and both students and parents alike have seen outstanding success with the school day start times for over 10 years now.

Lopez added, “Many public-school students, depending on their age, drive themselves, ride a bike, or walk to school. During certain times of the year, it’s dark out in the early hours, and that is a huge safety issue. So, this change will also help keep them safer with daylight during their morning commutes.”

HB 733 has gotten some bipartisan support. It passed the House and has been sent to the Senate. If passed, it wouldn’t go into effect until July 1, 2026, to give school districts enough time to make adjustments.

Interested parents, guardians, and/or students may contact Focus Academy at 813-443-5558 for a guided campus tour or may learn more about the application process for the fall semester by visiting

About Focus Academy
Focus Academy is a free ESE public charter school within the Hillsborough County Public School System that provides specialized education for students from 6th grade through age 22. Our students have disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, and Intellectual Disability. Social skills therapies are incorporated into the curriculum for a seamless learning experience with the goal of transitioning into the real world. The school includes a Middle School, High School, and a Transition Program.