In accordance with a new California law, Senate Bill 328, middle schools and high schools across California will change their start times for the 2022-2023 school year.
According to the new law, which was approved in 2019: The school day for public high schools, including charter schools may begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m., and middle schools cannot start earlier than 8 a.m.
The Bonita Unified School District, with schools in La Verne and San Dimas, will push start times to 8 and 8:30, to comply with the new law.
California Sen. Anthony J. Portantino, D-San Dimas, who authored the law said science supports this change in school start times.
“In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control came out with a recommendation with research … that high schools and middle schools should have late start times,” said Portantino.
Numerous studies find that teen-agers are at their best if they get eight to 10 hours of sleep a night, most fall far short of that.
A 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found only about 25 percent of high school students get a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night.
Portantino said that his proposal to change school start times was not popular at first.
“It took me three years (to pass),” Portantino said. “And for the first year it had major opposition.”.
Portantino said California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2018 election was a turning point in moving the legislation forward.
“One of the first things I did with the new governor was sit down with him and go over the research with him,” Portantino said. “And he read through the science and agreed with the bill,” said Portantino.
Bonita High School principal Kenny Ritchie said the new start time will be a welcome change.
“These kids are at a state where staying up late is normal for them, so these later start times will definitely help,” Ritchie said.
As for how it will impact the current schedule, Ritchie said actual adjustments will be minimal.
“The only real effect is that students will be getting out around 3:25 p.m. instead of the normal 2:35 p.m.,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie said most faculty and staff are in support of the change as well.
“They have been rather positive towards the whole thing (and) many are happy they get to sleep in a little more as well,” Ritchie said. “(Though) some do not favor the new end time as it is later than they are used to.”
Jason Huitrado, freshman and baseball player at Bonita High, said he has some reservations.
“It’s great we get more sleep,” he said. “But with people like me in sports will have later practices, which could conflict with my schedule if I wanted to get a job.”
Scott Sparks, principal of San Dimas High School, said that the change will be an adjustment.
“We are going from starting at 7:35 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. so it is a pretty big change we are dealing with here,” Sparks said. “Some students are not too happy about the later end time. However some students are happy that they get to sleep in.”
Sparks said he hopes the change doesn’t diminish involvement in sports and other after-school activities.
But Julia Jurado, a sophomore at San Dimas High, expressed optimism about the later start time.
“I think our health is more important and more sleep will definitely help,” Jurado said. “Some of my classmates might be unhappy about it, but that’s just how it is with these things.”
Joseph Chavez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.