Capitol Alert

Later start time at California middle and high schools falls short in Legislature

Students can sleep in thanks to later start times at Davis middle schools

Davis eighth-grader Susannah Costello, 14, explains why she prefers the later start time at Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School.
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Davis eighth-grader Susannah Costello, 14, explains why she prefers the later start time at Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School.

California lawmakers have rejected a bill to delay school start times, but the measure will likely resurface in January.

Senate Bill 328 would have pushed back the beginning of the school day to 8:30 a.m. for middle and high school students at public and charter schools across the state.

But the measure faltered badly in the Assembly late Thursday, and it’s author, Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, said Friday that he was giving up for the year. “It’s coming back in January.” he said.

Portantino introduced the bill to offset sleep deprivation among young people, which studies have linked to tardiness, bad grades and depression. He’s cited an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement that says delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and offers physical, mental and academic benefits to students.

The California School Boards Association, the leading opponent of the bill, argues that local school boards should be in control of start times and that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for all 3,000 secondary schools in the state. The association says the bill will increase the need for supervision before school, create hardships for working families and wreak havoc on schools that purposely stagger start times to meet student demand for bus transportation. Rural districts could apply for a waiver to postpone implementation.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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