On Aug. 31, the last day of California’s legislative session, the Golden State’s Senate and State Assembly passed a bill to delay middle school and high school start times to begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The bill, SB328, was introduced in 2017 with the support of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, California Sleep Society, and numerous other health organizations and civic groups. The bill passed the Senate but failed to pass the State Assembly.

Despite opposition from the California School Boards Association and the California Teachers Association, the bill was reconsidered on Friday and succeeded with a 41-34 majority in the Assembly. The amended bill went back to the Senate, where it passed 23-14 and now awaits action by the governor.

To garner more support for the bill in 2018, the authors added language to allow more flexibility for rural communities. If signed by the governor, the bill would exempt rural schools from complying with the new law.

The bill also would allow “zero period” classes to continue prior to the delayed start of the school day. The delaying of school start times would not be implemented until 2021 to allow school districts ample time to adjust bus and classroom schedules.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Anthony Portantino, expressed confidence as it now heads to the desk of California Governor Jerry Brown for his signature or a veto.

“As with anything, knowing the governor I think he will have a personal perspective on it, and I think he also respects science,” said Portantino. “So, I’m optimistic.”

Although Governor Brown has until the end of the month to make his final decision, he is likely to act on it next week. Read the AASM letter urging Gov. Brown to sign the bill into law.

Read the AASM position statement on school start times and learn more about the AASM’s work to promote healthier school start times for middle school and high school students.

For further discussion on school start times, please contact AASM advocacy staff by email at policy@aasm.org or by phone at (630) 737-9700.

Updated Sept. 6, 2018