Senate bill proposes new school start time

CVHS students will get to sleep later, and will have to stay at school later, if a bill in the state Senate becomes law.

Senate Bill 328, a bill with the aim of pushing secondary school start times back to 8:30 a.m. or later, has already passed two committee votes.

The bill was initiated by Democratic State Senator Anthony Portantino from the Los Angeles area in an attempt to improve California teens’ health. Portantino introduced the bill in response to survey results from the students of La Cañada High School (in Portantino’s district) which show that on average, the school’s students sleep less than the recommended nine to nine and half hours each night.

Portantino realized this is not true only for the students of La Cañada High School, but for many high schoolers. According to the National Children’s Hospital, teens get an average of seven to seven and a quarter hours of sleep every night, about two hours less than recommended average.

“Studies have shown that by moving the school start time back, academic performance increases, while depression, car accidents, sport injuries, and a host of other issues decreases,” said Portantino. “So to me, we should follow the data and the research and do what’s in the best interest for our kids.”

However, some question if the later start times would actually improve students’ sleep.

“I don’t think it matters one way or another. I think that if students can come into school later, they will go to bed late,” said Assistant Principal Patrina Redd. “I know, for example, I have one late day, where I come in at nine o’clock, and I stay up late doing work. So I think that I don’t change anything, and I can’t see students changing either.”

Other concerns include later dismissal times, as well as the fact that the bill will not affect zero period, so many students will still get up early anyway.

Despite the bill’s potential pitfalls, some students are still in favor of later start times.

ASB School Board Representative-elect Matt Betti thinks a later dismissal time will not be a “huge adjustment.”

“It will be worth it to get a little more time for sleep,” said Betti.

If passed, the bill could be implemented as soon as the 2017-2018 school year, but no later than the 2020-2021 school year.

“I think it’s important to follow research and the data that’s available that shows high school students will perform better when they’re healthier, and having more sleep creates healthier students,” said Portantino.

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