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Starting school at 9:30 a.m.?

It’s a real possibility for MUSD elementary students if law passes

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Starting school at 9:30 a.m.?

High school students — such as those on the East Union High quad Wednesday — could eventually start classes an hour later at 8:30 a.m. under a proposed state law.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/


POSTED August 11, 2017 1:15 a.m.

Manteca Unified parents of kindergarten through eighth graders are a step closer to the real possibility their children won’t be starting school until at least 9:30 a.m. in the future.
The California State Senate Thursday voted 25 to 13 to mandate that all  public middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. If the Assembly passes the bill and Gov. Jerry Brown signs it, the mandate would go into effect after July 1, 2020. Rural districts could obtain a two-year waiver until 2022.
The bill was authored by State Sen. Anthony Portantino in the belief it will improve student academic performance.  He based his legislation on studios that contend school age children need 10 hours of sleep and teens 9 to 10 hours. The National Sleep Foundation says as teens age they have a tendency to be more alert in the evening meaning they have more difficulty falling asleep and then waking up in the morning. No other state has such a law in place.
Manteca Unified Deputy Superintendent Roger Goatcher noted should the bill become law it would likely push elementary school start times back to at least 9:30 a.m. High schools now start at 7:30 a.m. except on late start Wednesdays when it is pushed back to 8:30 a.m. Elementary schools — depending upon the site — start between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.
The district is unable to start all of its schools at the same time due to insufficient buses.
“As soon as drivers finish the high school run, they go back and start the elementary run,” Goatcher said.
A later start for elementary school students mean they’d be dismissed closer to 4 p.m.
Goatcher noted the district in the past started elementary schools at 8 a.m.
The biggest impact could be the creation of latchkey kids in the morning given the high percentage of families in Manteca where both parents work often requiring grueling commutes to the Bay Area or Sacramento.
Students aren’t allowed on campus until 15 minutes before the first bell as that is when yard duty staff starts work.
It could leave large numbers of parents scrambling to find “morning care options.”
Manteca Parks & Recreation currently offers before school Kids Zone programs from 6:30 a.m. until the start at school at McParland, McParland Annex, Neil Hafley, Stella Brockman, Veritas, and Woodward. It’s offered at Brock Elliott from 7 to 8:45 a.m. only.
The cost or the morning program per child is $120 a month, $50 for a week or $20 for daily drop-ins. Extending the programs by a half hour to an hour would increase the city’s that would have to be passed on to parents. The delayed start could create a need at other schools for similar programs. Whether Manteca Recreation would be able to expand into additional schools would have to be addressed. Schools in Lathrop, Weston Ranch (Stockton) and in the rural portion of the district are not served by Manteca Parks & Recreation.
There also would be issues with afternoon bus routes as traffic patterns change significantly as the commute ramps up. Goatcher said things such as the safety of drop-off points and possibly increased ravel time would have to be addressed as might other unintended consequences.
If the bill becomes law, Goatcher said communication will be critical as the district doesn’t want to create situations where students are dropped off at school as much as an hour before start times.
State Sen. Portantino when he introduced the legislation back in May shared how it is a struggle to get his own teen-age daughter up in the morning and off to school.
Senate Bill 328 is supported by The American Academy of Pediatrics, California State PTA, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, California Federation of Teachers, California Sleep Society, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Loyola University Maryland, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Stanford University School of Medicine, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Stony Brook Medicine Program in Public Health, University of Washington – Department of Biology, and others.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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1 comment
JimHilson: 6 days, 20 hours ago

Time to tell the State Senate where they can shove their not so brilliant idea. Maybe they should work 14 hour days so they can find something productive to spend their time on instead of trying to disrupt every working family with school aged kids to deal with.
Stupid ideas such as this are what drive people to go on welfare instead of working for a living. It is cheaper than shelling out $120 a kid for morning babysitting, paying for commuting costs and being away from your family.
Write your state senator and tell them off about how stupid this idea is. It fits in with the always daylight savings time idea in the early 1970's to save gas. That resulted in parents having to drive their kids to school in the winter because it was still dark. It isn't broke so stop trying to fix it.




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