Education

Students in most San Juan schools can sleep in next fall – for five more minutes

San Juan Unified School District trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to delay start times five minutes later a year for the next three years in a bid to give students more sleep.
San Juan Unified School District trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to delay start times five minutes later a year for the next three years in a bid to give students more sleep. Sacramento Bee file

Students at most San Juan Unified schools will see their first class delayed by five minutes next fall in an attempt to improve performance and allow better sleep.

District trustees Tuesday night voted unanimously for the proposal, which will delay start times by five minutes a year in each of the next three school years.

Board President Mike McKibbin said Wednesday that trustees wanted to change start times in small increments to minimize disruption to family schedules.

“We thought families could handle five minutes a year, and we want to look at it to see if it makes a difference,” he said.

A staff report showed that San Juan middle schools have some of the earliest first bells in the region. Louis Pasteur Middle School in Orangevale, for example, starts at 7:30 a.m.

McKibbin said a majority of schools will be affected, principally those that could benefit by the change. He said the goal is to move start times back five minutes each year for the next three years so no student has to start before 7:45 a.m.

McKibbin noted that plenty of evidence supports later start times. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2014 urged schools nationally to delay school to allow students an optimal 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night.

In San Juan, the change will not affect the school’s budget or existing labor contracts, which allow five-minute adjustments without contract negotiations, he said.

Several other local districts are studying whether to delay start times. The Davis Joint Unified School District already delayed classes 25 minutes at middle schools this year and will extend the change to high schools in the fall.

In addition, the Nevada Joint Union High School District serving Grass Valley and Nevada City shifted school start times by a full hour – to 8:30 a.m. – this school year, according to Dan Frisella, director of educational and pupil services for the district.

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