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State bill proposes a later school start time

Start the School Day Later (SB328) is a bill that proposes schools to start at or after 8:30 a.m. On Sept. 1, the bill was amended in the Assembly Appropriations Committee with a 12-4 vote.

Districts estimate that if there are later school start times, there will be a higher Average Daily Attendance (ADA), particularly for morning classes.

SB328 is now heading to the third hearing at Sept. 7, 2017 Assembly Appropriations Committee (APA). SB32 will mandate all California public middle and high schools to change their bell schedules to accommodate the bill; this bill’s requirement would not apply to zero period classes.

In California, districts gain money based on period-by-period attendance of students. Districts estimate that if there are later school start times, there will be a higher Average Daily Attendance (ADA), particularly for morning classes.

The State Senate agreed that while SB328 could improve attendance rates, increase graduation rates and reduce tardiness, there could be “potential unintended impacts” on working and single parents who may not be able to accommodate the district’s new schedule or afford home-to-school transportation costs.

One of the few associations that publicly oppose this bill is the California Teachers Association.

This association argues that the bill does not consider hours for extracurricular activities and athletic programs in the afternoon, and that it also does not consider school transportation hours that are coordinated with other local school campuses and city ordinances.

These opponents propose that public schools’ start time decisions should be made at local levels instead.

The bill will now need to go through the Floor Assembly, then back to the Senate again for concurrence.

If the governor signs off on the bill, it would go into effect no later than July 1, 2020.

SB328 was originally proposed by Sen. Anthony Portantino shortly after the APA issued a recommendation in 2014 for schools to align schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents.

When the bill was formally introduced in February, there was mixed response from the public.

Most of the positive feedback came from pediatrics associations and school districts, such as American Academy of Pediatrics, Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which has been researching adolescent sleep needs and patterns, recently issued a policy statement that said, “A substantial body of research has now demonstrated that delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement.”

Later starts to the day generally result in higher ADA, which provides an additional incentive for schools to advocate for the bill.

Although some states, such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, are preparing bills similar to SB328, California would be the first state in the country to pass a bill regarding school start times.

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