When the new school year starts later this month, students in the El Paso Independent School District will be spending a little more time at school each day.

Because of a new Texas law, the district has changed the bell schedule for the 2017-2018 Instructional Year, adding 10 minutes to the end of the day for middle and high schools, and 5 more minutes for elementary schools.

Beginning on the first day of school, middle schools will let out at 3 p.m., elementary schools at 3:25 p.m., and high schools at 3:50 p.m.

EPISD Community Engagement Director Gustavo Reveles Acosta says the slightly longer day is the result of the state's recent policy change on instructional time. "The Texas Education Code no longer defines 180 days of instruction as an acceptable school year," Acosta said via email.

"Instead of measuring one-on-one instructional time for students in days, they're measuring in minutes," he added. "The requirement [is now] at least 75,600 minutes of instruction, with one day defined as 420 minutes."


Although all those minutes still works out to 180 days, the change, which was passed as House Bill 2610, gives a district more flexibility for making up missed instructional days.

"[The new law] affords Districts the opportunity to make up potential lost days (weather, water main breaks, etc) in minutes and not days," Acosta explained. "By adding [the extra minutes] to each instructional day, EPISD will bank enough minutes in the year to avoid having to add an additional day to the school calendar in the event of a snow storm or an emergency."

The change in bell schedule will only affect release times. The start of each school day remains the same.

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