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Newsom Signs Bill Pushing Back Public School Start Times

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Students in middle school and high school can sleep in later beginning in 2022, thanks to legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday.
Senate Bill 328, which was authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, bans public high schools from starting before 8:30 a.m. It additionally requires middle schools to start no earlier than 8 a.m.


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The new law did carve out an exemption for rural districts because of bus scheduling challenges. Also excluded: so-called “zero periods,” which are optional courses offered before the regular school day begins.

The Effect on Fresno Unified

Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson said that while the district’s middle schools already start at 8 a.m. the high schools will have to change their start times.
“We have to make sure we can get our kids to and from school from a transportation standpoint,” Nelson said. “We’re talking about what services we can provide for kids who might, in fact, come early to school. Like, do we have an opportunity to get them homework help?”
(Click on the video at the top of the story to see Nelson’s full remarks.)

Bill Opposed by Teachers, School Districts

Teachers and school districts opposed the law, arguing the decision on when to start school should be left to local officials.
And, a spokesman for the California School Boards Association told EdSource that the later start times would increase the need for childcare for “already cash-strapped families.”

Bill’s Author Predicts Better Grades, Healthier Children

But Portantino countered that “shifting to a later start time will improve academic performance and save lives because it helps our children be healthier.”
He characterized opponents as putting “our children’s health and welfare ahead of institutional bureaucracy resistant to change.”
A legislative analysis of the bill noted that various studies about the impacts of school start times over the past 15 years have had “wide variation in conclusions.”