California becomes first state in nation to mandate later start times at most public schools

SACRAMENTO (KGO) -- Another first for California as the state will now push back school start times - The earliest a middle school can start will be 8 am and for high schools 8:30.

The new law will begin in 2022.

Former governor Jerry Brown and the legislature rejected delaying start times at schools not once, but twice. Under Governor Gavin Newsom it proved to be "third time's a charm."

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Niko Arnold is a student at Lowell High School in San Francisco. Classes there begin at 7:50 in the morning.

"We have a lot of homework and a lot of extracurriculars. Yeah, it would be amazing. It's so hard to walk to the bus stop, I'm so tired in the morning," said Arnold.

Several research papers conclude that many kids are sleep deprived.

"Sleep-deprived kids graduate at lower rates, they are more depressed and they get lower grades, they are also more absent," explained Jessica Stewart of the advocacy group Go Public Schools.

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But teachers' unions argue that the decision to start later should be left up to each individual district based on the needs of the community. Then, there's the issue of working parents who would need to start later.

"We all have to go to work, that's definitely a challenge. I guess we would adjust our work schedule, start a little bit later," said Brian Finnerty, a parent.

So if schools end their days 30 minutes later what would kids be missing or giving up?

"I play hockey outside of the city in San Jose and it's already hard enough to bet there if I have practice at 6 o'clock so ending the day at 4 would be impossible and I would miss practice," said Erica Paschke, a high school student.

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But starting later won't necessarily mean ending late. This is where districts can get creative with their scheduling.

"I do think we have really smart people in the district that can figure this out, so I'm more excited than I would say disappointed about the decision," added Stevon Cook, President of the San Francisco School Board of Education

School districts will have three years to figure it out.

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