Proposed Senate bill would require California middle and high schools to start later

A bill in front of the California Senate Education Committee on Wednesday could dramatically change the daily calendar for San Diego area schools.

Senate Bill 328, proposed by Sen. Anthony Portantino, requires all middle and high schools in the state to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

"Almost 400 school districts around the country have gone to a later start time," Portantino told 10News in an exclusive interview. "They've said it led to better test scores and a decrease in depression, suicide and drug use."

Portantino also said those benefits outweigh any logistical problems local school districts could have.

A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested the 8:30 a.m. start time, saying teens have a hard time falling asleep before 11 p.m.

The study found that kids who don't get enough sleep could suffer from depression and obesity. The study also showed later start times decreased the chances of car accidents while improving grades and quality of life.

Officials with school districts in San Diego -- including San Diego Unified, Sweetwater, Poway and Grossmont -- told 10News they have no official opinion on the proposal. However, they're all keeping a close eye on the bill because it could have a drastic impact on their daily calendars.

Portantino said people who oppose the bill are spending too much time looking at the "adult" issues, like bus schedules and timing, and too little time focusing on student health.

"This is like lead paint or seat belts. Once you look at the benefits, the logistical stuff can all be worked out," he said.

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