Golden Valley High School sophomores John Casillas and Victor de la Cruz have their morning routine down pat: wake up at 6:20 a.m., walk to school every day except for Tuesdays when they are dropped off and get to school around 7:15 a.m.

At this point they don't even mind waking up so early in the morning since they have been doing it since the sixth grade, Casillas said. 

But now their high school — and most others in California — will be required to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., following a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Sunday to help improve school performance by allowing students to get more sleep. Middle schools will start at 8 a.m. or later.

"You get to sleep in, but you're not going to be used to it," Cruz said. Casillas added he prefers the school's 7:35 a.m. start time.

An hour later start time would also push back end times. Golden Valley's school day currently ends at 2:30 p.m., which means it would end at around 3:30 p.m. under the new law.

"You only have so much time for homework after school," Cruz said.

The new law makes California the first state in the country to mandate a later start time for middle and high schools. The new start times will be implemented by the 2022-23 school year or when a school’s three-year collective bargaining agreement with employees ends.

It does not apply to optional early classes, or "zero periods," or to schools in rural districts.

Some local districts would have to make substantial changes in order to meet the start time requirements and ensure there are enough buses and other resources available to make the transition smooth. 

About half of Kern High School District's schools begin around 7:30 a.m., according to online bell schedules, which means the new law would require them to adjust their schedules by about an hour. Other high schools start around 8:30 a.m., but they could potentially shift their start time as well because the district shares buses between schools.

"The Kern High School District is currently examining all potential impacts of the recent passage of Senate Bill 328. This includes transportation, food services operations, as well as instructional and co-curricular activities," KHSD said in a statement. "The District will plan accordingly to continue to meet the needs of our students and staff as we comply with this new law."

So far many parents and students are torn when it comes to the new law.

Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-San Fernando, SB 328's author, believes it is a necessary change to make for student health.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, children ages 6 to 13 years old should sleep nine to 11 hours a night, while teenagers ages 14 to 17 years old should sleep eight to 10 hours.

“Shifting to a later start time will improve academic performance and save lives because it helps our children be healthier,” Portantino said in a statement.

A similar bill was vetoed last year by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

Golden Valley freshman Rayna Rios said she is looking forward to getting more sleep since she wakes up at 5 a.m. to get ready for school. It's quite a change from her middle school days, she said, when she woke up at 8 a.m.

Parent Juana Handley also believes the trade off between starting later and getting out of school later is beneficial because students will be well rested for the day, and she can better align her schedule with her children's.

"They play golf, so right now I have to leave work at 2 p.m. to pick them up and drop them off, and then I drive back to work" where she works until 7 p.m., Handley said. If her children's golf practice ends an hour later than it currently does, she would be able to pick them up as she's heading home from work.

But students with after school obligations see the later start time as a problem. 

Sophomore Thanairy Cuellar and senior Kevin Cuellar are fairly busy once the bell rings at 2:30 p.m. Kevin Cuellar either works after school or attends football practice for a Christian league at 4:30 p.m. Likewise, Thanairy Cuellar works on homework at the library, heads to club meetings or attends marching band practice at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"My work hours would be affected. I would work less hours," said Kevin Cuellar. Though the change would not affect him personally, students who work after school would be in a similar situation.

"Ending school later would mean I would have less time to get work done in the library, and I wouldn't get as much done at home," Thanairy Cuellar said. "I'd like waking up later, but I wouldn't be able to wake up early to do work."

Rios, who has wrestling practice after school that ends at 6 p.m., does not like the possibility of practice ending at 7 p.m. and having to start homework late.

"Going to school earlier is better," she said. "I've gotten used to the schedule at this point."

Additionally, though Mary Ramsey believes children should get more sleep, she said it would be difficult for her to continue to drive her child to school since she is expected to be at work by 7:50 a.m.

Middle school start times in the Bakersfield City School District range between 7:30 and 8 a.m., according to online bell schedules. The start time change might not be as drastic, but just like at the high school level, the district has to consider transportation options when adjusting the schedule, explained Irma Cervantes, district spokeswoman.

"We will simply be adjusting our schedules to comply with the new regulations and the timeline allows us the time to make the appropriate changes," the district said in a statement.

Middle schools in Panama-Buena Vista, Greenfield Union, Fairfax Elementary, Rosedale Union and Norris school districts begin school after 8 a.m. so they most likely will not experience any changes.

Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.

(14) comments


What are parents expected to do if they rely on the kids being in school while they go to work? Trust me when I remind you that teens have a priority to their social media and knowing they can sleep another hour in the morning does not automatically turn off the phone so they can go to bed earlier the night before to get that elusive sleep. Kids who are late on the present schedule will still be late an hour later. And so it goes.


Swedish kids... kids with the best scores and grades than many other countries altogether have a late start time like this as well as optional extra curr. activities for them. They're doing it right so it's time we try too.


The belief that government regulations should or actually will have an impact on how much sleep ANYBODY gets is frightening.


I see it more as the government lightening up on forcing teens to have to wake up against their own biology.


So way isn’t the answer for them to just go to bed earlier? Because it won’t happen. And now it won’t happen either because they will just go to bed even later. End results is less kids in less after school activities.


This information has been available since the early 1980's. About time. Still doesn't fix the hours of mindless droning indoctrination which occurs at the public school.


This is proven to increase test scores and grades. Not to mention better sleep is vital for good mental health.


Yeah? You think the Chinese and German students are sleeping in? Falling behind people.


German students attend school I’m morning but are out at 12. Fewer hours at school then the average American student. They also start to separate the kids into 3 different types of placement according to abilities.!they also have free university.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Actually, there are four options when in secondary school.

Also, school attendance is compulsory and home schooling is prohibited...


Gavin is out of control!


This won't cut into their phone time I hope?

So glad I was a 60s kid.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Nope- they'll still text each other during class just like they did before the time change...


No Lie! He keeps signing stupid bills according to what HE wants without researching or considering the problems they cause. He doesnt have one functioning brain cell. All that grease in his hair drowned them!


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