A recent law that aims to reduce sleep deprivation among adolescents will be implemented in the Sweetwater Union High School District beginning July 2022.
The Pupil Late Start Bill (SB 328) was introduced by Sen. Anthony Portantino and was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October 2019. Under this new legislation, California’s middle schools cannot start required classes any earlier than 8:00 a.m and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
Specific scheduling within those parameters is left to local school districts, with allowances made for some rural communities. The guidelines go into effect in the 2022 school year for most districts
During a Jan.10 SUHSD board meeting, district staff announced school district is required to implement it by July 1, 2022, to begin with, the 2022-2023 school year.
Currently, all middle schools in the district begin at 8 a.m, except for Rancho Del Rey Middle school, which begins at 7:40 a.m but will adjust their start time to 8 a.m.
High schools will start at 8:30 except for San Ysidro High School, which began late start already for the last two school years.
A committee of 13 district staff was formulated to review and plan the implementation of the new legislation.
An analysis was conducted among middle school and high school principals, who were asked to submit two draft copies of ideal bel schedules by the committee. The committee reported that the received schedules all began with an 8:30 a.m. start time.
By delayed starting times, the committee anticipates challenges in scheduling among after-school sports and transportation.
A core focus group was created by Eugenio “Alex” Estrada, the Metro Conference Athletic Director to analyze the difference between 3:30 to 4 p.m. game start times. The core group recommended a 3:30 start time to maintain existing practices of early release of athletes. The core group also recommended renting lights during the winter, when there is the least amount of light, for non-stadium fields.
The issue of transportation is a “very fragile conversation”, according to district staff, who said there will be further updates on this matter. According to district staff, as soon as Chief Facilities and Operations Officer Janea Quirk and her team began looking at this issue, their initial impression was that the district would need to hire 40 new bus drivers and busses.
The team looked to SUHSD superintendent Dr. Moisés G. Aguirre recommended a series of options to the team. With those recommendations, the team is looking at modifying routes to not exceed the board policy of walking distances of 2.5 miles for middle schools, and 3.5 miles for high schools.
There were up to five bus routes to have “a little more efficiency with the routes”, according to the district staff.
Charter busses and alternative modes of transportation are being considered for youth who need to be transported outside the peripherals of the district.
District staff said new routes will be posted by the end of February.