School start time bill may affect transportation and extra curriculars


Proposed California State Senate Bill 328 would push school start times back later, and the bill currently depends only on Governor Jerry Brown for final jurisdiction. If he signs it, the bill will require all middle schools, high schools and charter schools to start no earlier 8:30 a.m. by July 1, 2021. Rural districts would be exempt from this mandate.  

The legislation was initially introduced last year, but died on the Assembly Floor. It has now gone farther than that initial attempt. If it goes into effect, the district will have to adapt to numerous challenges, both in terms of transportation and after-school scheduling.

A major issue for RJUHSD will face is bus coordination. RJUHSD shares buses with middle schools in the Roseville City School District. In order for schools in both districts to start at 8:30 or later, they would either have to pay for more buses, work with local elementary school district to move their starting times earlier in the morning or stagger start times by starting certain schools significantly later in the day.

Roseville High School principal David Byrd has reservations on the logistics of the bill, not only in relation to busing, but on the challenges it would present to parents.

“We have to also realize that there’s people right now that have a schedule; they get their kids to school at a certain time and maybe they’ve arranged their schedule to do that,” Byrd said. “Now they have to adjust their schedule to accommodate for that. There’s just some things we have to work through.”

With later start times comes later dismissal, which would impact the scheduling for sports and other after-school activities. A later release could potentially lead to late practices or early morning practices, unless student athletes miss a larger amount of the school day to begin practice at the same time as in the past.

Varsity boys basketball coach Greg Granucci believes that the implementation of the new start time will affect the current practice times for the basketball teams, which already have constraints due to the number of teams and limited spacing.

“There’s three boys teams for basketball and three girl teams, so that’s six teams that practice after school, the latest one goes seven to nine,” Granucci said. “It’s going to be an adjustment for us… Obviously if school gets out at 3:30 and we still want two hour practices, and there’s six teams and two gyms, we’re going to be practicing past 9:00.”

Three-sport athlete Josh Alger longs for more morning sleep, but believes having late-night practices would only make completing homework on time more difficult.

“I won’t get as much time to do my homework, because practices will go later.” Alger sad. “You either do your homework after school or before school, and it’s kind of tough to do it before school when you have to wake up at 6:30 do to homework, [so] I’d rather have time at night after sports to get it all done and be able to sleep in.”

Despite these scheduling challenges, the bill aims to make students more mentally capable of taking on the school day. Senator Portantino, lead author of the bill, has cited The Academic Pediatric Association and the Center for Disease and Control, stating that both establishments found that adolescents perform more effectively, both academically and socially, with a later school start time.

Wellness Center counselor Honeymae Fuentes feels that a later start time will enhance the quality of education students receive.

“Mental health is connected to everything—I can imagine that everyone has a busy schedule… Starting later will just help everyone stay organized and on top of things,” Fuentes said.  “It’s our body’s way of restarting again. Sleep is the natural way to reboot our brain, our bodies, our everything. And with proper sleep, it leaves more space to communicate better, to be successful, notice things, be aware, and to be present. It’s physical and mental.”

Byrd believes the bill is worth considering in order to improve the health of students.

“If there’s something that would suggest that by starting later we would get more kids learning, more kids responding to school, that we could get a better education for kids – well, I like that. I think that’s worth exploring and worth doing,” Byrd said.

Byrd, while unsure with how the bill would roll out, maintains a steadfast belief that Roseville High School will persevere through change regardless.

“I would never bet or wager what the outcome is going to be – if it’s going to be better, or going to be worse,” Byrd said. “One way to look at this is – if the state of California mandates this, we’re not in any place to say ‘Yeah, thanks, but no thanks, we’re going to do something else’ – it’s the law.”