School Wouldn’t Start Until At Least 8:30 A.M. Under California Bill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — State lawmakers say they’re concerned that teen health is deteriorating due to sleep deprivation, and they blame school start times.

The California Senate passed a bill that would delay public middle and high schools start times. The bill is aimed at getting teens to sleep more and perform better.

When that school bell rings at Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School on Davis, officials say students are in full school mode. And teachers, are taking note.

“Most of them are seeing increases in student attendance, decreases in tardies, in particular, truant tardies,” said Davis Joint Unified Deputy Superintendent Matt Best.

Two years ago, his middle school staffs made the decision to delay the school start to no earlier than 8:30 a.m. so students come to class less sleepy.

“The research really does show that students can come to school later they will get more sleep,” said Best.

But many parents say the push to protect teen sleep will instead promote teen laziness. Not to mention, interfere with mom and dad’s work.

“We may have a problem as far as the working schedule is concerned,” said one parent.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino is pushing a landmark school start time bill that would prevent all state middle and high schools from starting earlier than 8:30. His bill just sailed through the Senate, but opposition is fierce. Critics, including the California Teachers Association, say local districts, not the state, should set their own hours. Portantino’s response? Look at the science.

“The circadian rhythm of teens require them to get 10 hours of sleep. It also prevents them from falling asleep before 10:45 or 11 at night,” said Senator Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge).

He says there’s no arguing with biology. That’s why, by next year, high schools in the city of Davis will also start later, changing up the morning routine in the name of productivity.

“Yeah, a little extra time to do that might not hurt,” another dad said.

If approved, the bill won’t be implemented until 2020. The purpose for that, according to the bill’s author, is to give parents more time to coordinate pick up and drop off of their kids within the community.

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