Gov. Newsom signs SB-328 mandating later school start times

LIZZIE PELZMAN

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RJUHSD schools will move start times back to 8:30 or later by July 2022. California State Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 328 on Sunday mandating high schools in non-rural communities to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and middle schools no earlier than 8:00 a.m.

For RJUHSD students, this means seeing start times nearly an hour later than the current 7:40 a.m. If the district waits until 2022, current freshmen will see this change their senior year. If they choose to act earlier, current sophomores and potentially juniors would also experience the change in start times.

According to principal Nicholas Richter, the district will now start to work through the logistics of the change. 

“It’s a little bit more than just shifting start times,” Richter said. “We would start with some big conversations at the district level saying ‘What are the big factors that are going to be impacted?’” 

With the later start time comes a later release time, which could impact scheduling for sports and other after-school activities. 

When a similar bill was proposed in late 2018, Eye of the Tiger interviewed varsity boys basketball coach Greg Granucci who said implementation of the new start time would affect the current practice times for basketball teams.

“There’s three boys teams for basketball and three girls teams, so that’s six teams that practice after school. The latest one goes 7:00 to 9:00,” 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 are six teams and two gyms, we’re going to be practicing past 9:00.”

One logistical issue RJUHSD will face is bus coordination. RJUHSD shares busses with middle schools in the Roseville City School District. Requiring RCSD middle schools to start after 8:00 a.m. and RJUHSD high schools to start after 8:30 would create a need for solutions like more busses, shifting elementary school start times or staggered start times for high schools.

Despite these scheduling challenges, the bill aims to make students better rested and more able to take 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. 

Also interviewed in late 2018, Wellness Center counselor Honeymae Fuentes said a later start time would 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.”