Alison Yin for EdSource
SB 328 would require all middle and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to address health issues related to teen sleep deprivation.
This post was updated to add that California would be the first state to adopt a ban on early start times if the bill becomes law.

A ban on starting regular school classes earlier than 8:30 a.m. in all California middle and high schools will come up for a vote next month in an Assembly committee. 

The bill passed the Assembly Education Committee last week and must clear the Assembly Appropriations Committee before it goes to the full Assembly. If passed and signed by the governor, the bill would make California the first state in the country to adopt a ban on early start times in secondary schools.

In May, the Senate approved the bill in a 23-13 vote. SB 328 was sponsored by Sen. Anthony Portantino, DLa Cañada Flintridge.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino

Portantino and supporters of the proposed law say it is necessary because it addresses public health concerns related to adolescent sleep deprivation, including suicide, depression, and car accidents involving teens. Medical research shows that teens have difficulty falling asleep early in the evening and functioning well in the morning, Portantino and others told the Assembly Committee on Education last Wednesday.

If passed, the bill wouldn’t go into effect for two years, to give schools and districts time to plan for it. Small, rural districts could apply for waivers for up to two years, if the new law would pose a hardship for them.

The bill is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, California State PTA, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, California Federation of Teachers, California Sleep Society and several hospitals, school districts and student advocacy groups. Advocates who spoke at the Assembly Education Committee hearing included Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who is a pediatrician.

“The science is sound,” he said. “We need to do this for the benefit of our kids.”

Opponents include the California School Boards Association, California Teachers Association and California Association of School Business Officials. Nancy Chaires Espinoza, a legislative advocate for the California School Boards Association, was among those who spoke against the bill at the Assembly Education Committee hearing, saying local school boards should be the ones deciding start times for their schools, not the state.

Chaires Espinoza said later start times may require additional buses and drivers and some districts may not have funding for them.

She also speculated that many teens may not get more sleep anyway, since their parents might not be able to adjust their work days and would have to just drop kids off early.

The bill would not apply to so-called optional “zero period” classes, which take place before the regular school day begins and add an extra period to a student’s day. However, it would include charter schools, the committee said.

A rundown of nearly a dozen bills being followed by EdSource is here.

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  1. Paul Muench 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    Why do later start times need state wide support? In the era of local control we need an answer to this question.

    Replies

    • Theresa Harrington 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

      That is part of the debate around this bill. Currently, there is nothing stopping local school boards from adopting later start times. However, Sen. Portantino and the bill's supporters believe the state needs to mandate it because it is a public health issue. He also said some local district leaders said it would be easier to move start times later if neighboring districts did it also, to better align sports and other shared schedules. And … Read More

      That is part of the debate around this bill. Currently, there is nothing stopping local school boards from adopting later start times. However, Sen. Portantino and the bill’s supporters believe the state needs to mandate it because it is a public health issue. He also said some local district leaders said it would be easier to move start times later if neighboring districts did it also, to better align sports and other shared schedules. And one district leader said it’s sometimes easier for local boards to implement things like this if the state mandates it, since it’s impossible to please all local constituents when altering start times, no matter when they are.

      • Paul Muench 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

        I think even without a detailed study I can comfortably say that a significant majority of teenagers are NOT committing suicide. Is there really no other options for at risk students? This law really seems like overkill.