MARTINEZ, Calif. – Belief in the idea that students will be healthier, get better grades, and more likely graduate has resulted in a new law requiring schools to start later in the day.
Governor Gavin Newsom just signed SB 328, after rejecting the first version last year. It will mean a change for Alhambra High School (AHS) students.
Martinez Unified School District (MUSD) has until the 2022-2033 school year to comply with SB 328, but MUSD Superintendent of Schools CJ Cammack is already working on it.
“The new law requires middle schools to begin no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools to start regular classes after 8:30 am,” Cammack explained. “SB 328 excludes ‘zero periods,’ which are optional courses offered by some schools before the regular school day begins.”
AHS already has an unusual, more flexible schedule. “Our AHS students start both before 8 a.m. and after 8:30 given their rotating block schedule,” Carmack said. “As we move closer to the implementation of this new law, we will be collaborating with staff to determine the best ways to reach compliance with SB 328, while keeping a focus on student learning.”
The Superintendent also said the district will be reviewing additional provisions of SB 328 to better understand what the law will and won’t allow in terms of “zero period” course offerings.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association all backed the law, which passed over some objections related to transportation, union agreements, after student school activities and employment.
“The science shows that teenage students who start their day later increase their academic performance, attendance, and overall health,” Newsom said in a statement. “Importantly, the law allows three years for schools and school districts to plan and implement these changes.”
The argument against the time change focused on the inconvenience of changing so many schedules that students and parents have in place and a lack of proof that students will really get more sleep.
One of the most vocal opponents of the bill is the California Teachers Association, which helped prevent an earlier version of SB 328 from clearing the assembly in 2017. The CTA said that families who can’t afford the extra childcare costs associated with a later school day will be especially hard hit.
“SB 328 could have a disproportionately negative impact on working families, particularly laborers and service industry employees who don’t have the option of starting their workday later,” says CTA spokesperson Claudia Briggs.