California schools may start later under new bill

Posted at 4:27 PM, Sep 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-03 19:27:21-04

California lawmakers want to push back middle and high school hours to help students get more sleep.

The average time middle and high schools start in California is around 8 a.m., but Senate Bill 328 would require all public middle and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Local students say a long day of learning can take its toll.

"In the past, like last year, I had some late nights and I got really tired and I had fallen asleep quite a bit during school," said Elijah Greidanus, a freshman at Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School in San Luis Obispo.

"Everyone comes to school looking like zombies," said Alexis Rosinsky, a sophomore at Mission College Prep.

Research says teens perform better in school, have lower rates of depression, and have fewer car accidents when school starts later.

"Starting class so early in the morning can be harder to focus, especially if you’re taking something like algebra or something that requires a lot of attention and focus," Rosinsky said.

Opponents of the bill argue the change in time would make it harder for working parents to drop their kids off at school and negatively impact extracurricular activities.

"Starting later would mean getting out later and there’s a lot of after-school activities that either start at 3:30 or 4," said Liz Espy, who has a child in middle school. "That doesn’t give a lot of transition time in between and also time for homework, so I think cutting into that time when so much is expected of them already between sports and homework isn’t a good idea."

Espy says the key to getting more sleep may be more discipline at home.

"I think getting them more sleep is having more structure to the last half of your day and managing time and bedtime," Espy added.

Ultimately, the decision on when the first school bell should ring lies in Governor Jerry Brown’s hands. He’s yet to sign the bill.

The change, if signed by Gov. Brown, would affect charter schools but would not affect rural schools or private schools.

If the bill passes, schools would have until 2021 to determine bus routes, class schedules, and make other necessary changes.