Lodi coaches unhappy with school start time law
LODI — The president of Lodi Unified School District’s Board of Education said that a bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom will throw a monkey wrench in people’s lives.
“I’m disappointed,” LUSD board president Gary Knackstedt said. “I think scheduling should be left up to the communities and their boards of education. This is just more government intrusion that isn’t appropriate.”
On Sunday, Newsom signed legislation mandating later start times for middle schools and high schools across the state, siding with pediatricians rather than teacher unions, school boards and superintendents.
Authored by Senator Anthony Portantino, D-San Fernando, Senate Bill 328 will require middle school to start no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
Districts in rural areas would be exempt due to bus scheduling challenges, as well as those that offer ‘zero periods,’ or classes offered by some schools before the regular day begins.
The bill goes into effect in the 2022-23 academic year.
Lodi Unified high schools begin their regular schedules at 7:35 a.m. and end at 2:10 p.m. while middle schools begin the day at 8:12 a.m. and end at 2:20 p.m.
As a coach and athletic director, Knackstedt said he didn’t know how the time change will benefit high school students involved in extracurricular activities such as sports and band.
“The whole ides is to get our students to sleep more,” he said. “If we put everything back more, these kids are getting home an hour later, then they have homework and they have to eat. They’re getting to bed later.”
Knackstedt authored a letter opposing SB 328 in August that was approved by the board and sent to the governor.
In the letter, he wrote that later start times would require the district to adjust transportation for students from home to school and back, in addition to increasing costs for more buses.
After-school programs would be affected as well, he wrote, as families who cannot adjust their work schedules will have to find additional supervision for their children when classes end, and the district would be unable to accommodate additional morning and after-school supervision for families who need it.
He added that athletics teams will have to push start times to later in the day, and students currently missing one class when traveling to events could potentially miss two periods of education due to later start times.
Mike Holst, Tokay High School Athletic Director, said later start times could cause student athletes to miss more than one class, which will be a major concern to teachers.
Start times for games could be adjusted to accommodate the bill, but then students would be getting home later that they are now. However, if game times aren’t adjusted, students will definitely miss multiple periods of instruction.
Holst, however, is taking a forward-looking approach to the bill.
“If teen bodies are inclined to wake up later, if that’s the case, I hope that the people making these decisions have figured this out,” he said. “Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it can’t be done. There may be a little freaking out to start with, but once we get it all figured out it will be normal. I’m sure we’ll get direction from the board and upper management in the district.”
Robert Winterhalter, athletic director at Lodi High School, shared the concerns voiced by both Knackstedt and Holst.
He said many of his student athletes attend mandatory study hall after school and before practice, which starts at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. for most teams.
“With multiple teams practicing and using the same facilities, some practices might not end until 10 p.m.,” he said. “I find this unacceptable from an academic standpoint, so I had a thought about morning practices. An indoor team could practice from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. before school. This defeats the purpose of a later start time, but I find it a better alternative than a practice that runs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Winterhalter said he’d like to move start times for athletics events and practices back to accommodate the new law, but noted that teams who compete outdoors run into the issue of not having enough daylight to finish a match.
“I think the law is wellintentioned, but it will probably have an overall negative effect on student athletes,” he said. “I know athletics are a privilege and those students who choose to complete in a sport, do so voluntarily, but will add yet another obstacle to students' already busy schedules.”
Several school districts, as well as the California Teachers Association, opposed the bill, the latter of which said SB 328 was unnecessary because the legislation’s targeted communities already have the option to start school at later times.
The CTA echoed Knackstedt’s concerns that the bill would negatively impact before- and after- school programs and sports, union contracts and bus schedules.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics supported the bill, citing 2014 research that showed delayed start times led to improved grades, increased attendance and energy among teenagers during the school day.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teenagers get eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, according to 2016 research. A lack of sleep, the academy said, is linked to accident risk, injuries, obesity, diabetes, depression and suicidal attempts or thoughts.
Portantino first introduced the bill last year, but former Gov. Jerry Brown issued a veto, stating that start times should remain a decision made by districts and their communities.
School districts must comply with the bill by July 1, 2022, or by the date of which a district’s collective bargaining agreement that is operative on Jan. 1, 2020, expires, whichever is later.
Knackstedt said the board will most likely ask staff at a future meeting to create a report on how the district will proceed with the passage of the law.