Legislature Passes Portantino’s Bill on School Start Time

California lawmakers have approved Senate Bill 328, the school start-time proposal authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), with the legislation passing the state Assembly and Senate late Friday.
The bill now waits to be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Sept. 30 to make his decision.
The legislation would require all public middle and high schools in California to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., a policy that the La Cañada Unified School District implemented in 2017-18. Research has shown that the later start helps teens get more sleep, do better in school and have improved mental health.
“I am beyond thrilled that our children’s health came first today,” Portantino said in a statement. “It is fundamental to put the well-being of our students first, and I am glad that this important measure is moving forward. From Day One, this has been my top priority. The science and results are clear; our teens are healthier and perform better when school starts later.”
Portantino authored SB 328 last year, basing it on research and the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The organization issued a policy statement advising school districts to change the school day start time to no earlier than 8:30, specifically for middle schools and high schools. Studies have confirmed that insufficient sleep in teenagers poses a public health risk. A later start time has resulted in more on-time attendance, higher grades and graduation rates, Portantino argued.
“Every year we discuss as parents, educators and legislators the best practices for our children and their education. The data on this measure is clear and that is starting the school day at a later time improves the quality of education, health and welfare of our children. So let’s do it,” Portantino added.
Whether Brown will sign the bill remains to be seen, a spokeswoman for the senator said Wednesday. The bill failed to pass last year after intense debate, and the California Teachers Association and California School Boards Association have reportedly opposed it, saying it creates an unfair burden for working parents.
“We really don’t know at this point which way he will teeter-totter,” said Yvonne Vasquez, Portantino’s press secretary.

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