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Eye of the Tiger

Start time bill gains momentum

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(SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

SINO OULAD DAOUD

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If California State Senate Bill 328 passes, RJUHSD students will be arriving to school no later than 8:30 for first period.

SB 328 requires all California middle and high schools to adopt the new start time by July 1, 2020. The bill passed “as amended” through the Assembly of Appropriations Committee hearing last Friday – the sixth vote it passed through on its way to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

California State Senator Anthony J. Portantino introduced the bill last February which went through its first senate hearing in April. Portantino presented his position about the benefits of an 8:30 start time during the Senate Floor Session in May.

“We have 400 school districts around the country that have seen the benefits of this very simple public health and education reform effort and movement,” Portantino said. “These healthier students who are allowed to sleep in the morning perform academically better. Their test scores go up, their attendance goes up, their graduation rate goes up.”

Opposing the bill, Senator Jim Nielsen expressed his concern during this hearing that students would simply revert to poor sleep habits regardless of the change in start times.

“Knowing the behavior of our youth, I expect that this will only dispose them to stay up later, since they knew they could sleep in later and have to go to school later,” Nielsen said.

Senator Richard Pan – coauthor of the bill – stated in the Senate hearing that the issue goes beyond student habits.

“As people have looked at their circadian rhythms and the sleep cycles of teens, it’s not an issue of ‘well if they go to bed earlier, they could get up earlier,’” Pan said. “We need to acknowledge the reality of their biology, the reality of what they know, about how they absorb information and at what times that happens.”

In her position Senator Jean Fuller stated the change in start times would prevent districts from customizing school schedules in order to share busses between elementary, middle and high schools.

“This could require many districts to have to double their bussing,” Fuller said. “Buying busses will take away from regular school programs because that comes out of their general fund. And that will not help students with extra classes for tutoring nor for extra programs.”

According to Fuller, the power to change start times should remain with individual school districts.

“Mandatory one-size-fits-all for the schools in California is not a good solution,” Fuller said. “At the end of the day, there’s a local school board that basically takes all these factors into consideration.”

Senator Kevin de León told the Senate to let students sleep in.

“Colleagues, these are teenage kids, let’s just let them sleep in for a little bit – let’s just do that,” de León said. “Hopefully they’ll get great grades.”

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