California law requires new bell schedule with 8:30 a.m. start time

Teacher unions, district begin to create 2022-2023 master bell schedulew

By Naomi Baron

Governor Gavin Newsom signed Bill No. 328 in 2019 prohibiting high schools from starting classes before 8:30 a.m. and middle schools from beginning instruction before 8:00 a.m. The bill will come into effect in the 2022-2023 school year, ABC News reported. 

“There’s been a lot of discussion, debate and research about sleep patterns and sleep needs of students,” Giglio said. “The data has been pretty conclusive that kids tend to fall asleep later and need to sleep a little bit later. So if you want them to be healthier and be able to learn stuff, you should start school at a later time.” 

Giglio said the school thought they would be able to receive a waiver allowing them to keep the same schedule due to their multiple late start days, but the waiver was rejected.   

“Because of the way our schedule is structured where there’s an option for a later start [first period off option] and we have two days a week of late start, we thought that would work and could get a waiver,” Giglio said. “But, they said that all classes have to start after 8:30 a.m.”

Currently, there are committees within the teacher’s unions and district that are working to create the new bell schedule, Giglio said. He said the school needs to have a finalized bell schedule by around March or April in order to begin creating the teacher and student schedules, which depend on the bell schedule. 

It’s going to be hard on athletics. It’s gonna be hard on activities. It’s hard on kids. There’s a lot of good news and a lot of negatives to this.”

— Giglio

“There’s a lot of people that are interested in trying to keep all five schools on the same schedule, because that’s pretty helpful for a lot of reasons,” Giglio said. “Some people are saying, ‘since we have a chance to change the schedule, let’s blow it up and look at all sorts of things.’”

Additionally, Giglio said there are some legal guidelines the school must follow. According to the California Department of Education, all California high schools must meet 64,800 minutes of  instruction, so the new schedule must make sure that the school meets that requirement. Furthermore, the district has also expressed their desire to keep certain aspects of the current schedule. 

“For instance, we’re not going to give up staff collaboration because that’s an important part of making a good program. We also want to make sure we keep tutorial,” Giglio said. “Then there’s things like ‘is it a good idea to have lunch at 1:30 p.m.? When should we have brunch?’ We also have to consider the cafeteria. Folks need time to come here, make you brunch, start cooking lunch  and then have time in between brunch and lunch to clean up and be ready to serve.” 

School extracurricular activities, like sports and after school clubs, would also be impacted by the later start time, prompting students to get home later at night. 

“One of the biggest issues is not all the fields have lights. Unless you’re doing all the games in the football stadium, it starts to make a difference on when you can play games and practice,” Giglio said. “With daylight savings time, you got to get kids out to play and practice soccer and then finish before it turns dark unless you have lights on the field. That could be an added expense that we may have to look into and consider our neighbors and electricity rates.”

The school will also have to coordinate with the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in order to coordinate different bus times. 

“One of the things that most people are concerned about, and I’m not sure we have a really good answer for, is the lateness of when school is going to end. We don’t have any fat in our schedule. It’s not like we can trim out periods. It’s going to push the schedule to the end of the day to 3:45 p.m. or 3:50 p.m.” Giglio said. “It’s going to be hard on athletics. It’s gonna be hard on activities. It’s hard on kids. There’s a lot of good news and a lot of negatives to this.”