CSBA supports LEAs adopting later school start times, opposes statewide mandate
Senate Bill 328 (Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge), introduced in February, would prohibit any secondary school in California from starting the schoolday before 8:30 a.m. CSBA has an “oppose” position on this bill.
CSBA is supportive of the authority of individual school boards to explore and adopt later start times. CSBA further recognizes the science and research cited by the proponents of later start times outlining the benefits to student health. CSBA does not oppose later start times.
CSBA opposes a statewide mandate on school start times. One size does not fit all in a state as diverse as California, and the decision on school start times should not be a universal mandate affecting all of the state’s nearly 3,000 secondary schools, which is what this bill would create.
Further, because the language of the bill is phrased as a prohibition, the Commission on State Mandates is unlikely to approve reimbursements for any implementation costs that would result from schools moving to a later start time.
School and county boards routinely weigh numerous studies and research findings to determine what the best interventions for their students are, and when those interventions should be made. Local governing boards should retain the right to determine whether later start times are the right fit for their students and communities, and if so, how much later their schools should start.
SB 328 was amended in April to:
- Clarify the definition of “schoolday” to allow an optional “zero period,”
- Set an implementation date of the mandate to July 1, 2020, and
- Provide an avenue for rural school districts to apply for a waiver from the State Board of Education to delay implementation of the mandate for two years.
(Note: While a waiver process to delay implementation is offered, there is no provision in the bill for any district to apply for an exemption, and there has been no indication that such an amendment to the bill would be included.)
There are significant implementation concerns that would come with a mandate on later start times, and such a mandate would come with several unintended consequences.
Just some of the issues local boards must consider in establishing start times are:
Student safety: There are far fewer programs and activities in the morning than in the afternoon that can ensure student safety — funding for before and after school programs has remained flat over the past decade and has not kept up with demand. Many children would be unsupervised in the morning, as they might be dropped off at school at the same time even though school would start later.
Family hardship: Many working parents in California do not have the option to change their work schedules to accommodate a later start time — such a mandate would have a disparate impact on laborers and service industry workers who do not have the schedule flexibility that many people in more affluent communities enjoy. A universally mandated start time of 8:30 a.m. would be highly problematic for many rural families who must travel greater distances between home, school and work, and would likewise pose challenges for those with long, unpredictable commutes in more congested urban areas of the state.
Transportation: Many LEA’s statewide (in particular, those in rural areas) are facing mounting cost pressures for home-to-school transportation, requiring them to stretch school start times over a wider span of time to meet local demand.
Athletics: Athletic facilities are limited in many schools. High schools in particular must stagger athletic practice and competition to provide students with access to fields and gyms.
End times: Later start times must result in later end times, which would affect a wide range of activities that middle school and high school students should have access to; this could include (but is not limited to) school clubs and extracurricular activities, and out-of-school endeavors such as taking community college courses or maintaining part-time jobs.
Please email Governmental Relations if you have additional questions about CSBA’s position on SB 328 or on the issue of school start times.