KNSD: Middle School, High School Students Could Start Day Later Under Bill Introduced by Calif. Senator

February 14, 2017

Some California middle school and high school students may get a little more sleep under a bill introduced by California Senator Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge.

Portantino introduced SB 328 on Monday, which would require middle schools and high schools in California school districts to start school days no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

"Every year we discuss as parents, educators, and legislators, best practices and interests of the children and education? Well data is clear; starting the school day later improves the quality of education, health and welfare of our children. So let’s do it," Portantino said in a statement.

In a statement Monday, Portantino referenced a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics from 2014, in which the organization advised school districts to change start times to 8:30 in the morning or later.

The lead author of the statement, pediatrician Judith Owens, said students who get enough sleep are less likely to be overweight, suffer from depression, become involved in car accidents, and are also more likely to experience positive effects including better grades and standardized test scores.

During multiple studies at schools that delayed start times, at least nine benefits were observed, according to the American Psychological Association. Portantino said his favorite benefit was "increase in quality of student-family interaction."

Another one of the benefits observed was increased attendance at schools that made the shift.

Stemming from that observation, Portantino believes later start times will improve attendance at schools, and thus funding for those schools. If the current attendance rate were improved by one percent, the district would gain an added $40 million a year, Portantino said, citing the Los Angeles Unified School District.

It is unclear how the bill could affect zero period classes, classes that meet before a school's typical start time. Portantino said they have not come to a conclusion about zero period, and said it was left out of the bill on purpose because they would like to hear from educators and school districts in the state before a decision is made.