We Should Not Start School Late, Mate!

Recently, California Senator Anthony Portantino proposed Senate Bill 328, which advocates for all California high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.. Though this idea sounds appealing, an earlier start time would do more harm than good for Irvington. Irvington’s start time should remain at 8:00 a.m. because the inconvenience and impracticality outweighs the improbable benefit that an later start time would have.

While proponents argue that a later start time of 8:30 a.m. will lead to students getting more sleep, an extra 30 minutes is too small of a change to make a significant impact in student sleep and energy levels. If anything, it will only further encourage students to procrastinate and sleep later. Because students believe they can “sleep in” in the morning, students will be more inclined to start homework later and sleep later. For this reason, a later school day would be counterproductive, with students getting the same amount of sleep; the only difference would be students waking later in the morning and sleeping later in the night. Likewise, a later start time will not always lead to higher attendance. For example, according to the Los Angeles Times, school officials reported that attendance rates went down when Antelope Valley High School adopted a later school start time.

Starting school earlier means ending school later as well. A later ending time will take time away from students for  after school activities and schoolwork. Now, more than ever, students are joining multiple clubs and participating in after-school commitments to stay competitive in colleges’ eyes. A later end time will cause sports practices, club meetings, and other  after school activities to start later in the day. As a result, students will have trouble juggling extracurriculars with schoolwork, and will likely have to choose between cutting some after-school commitments, or sleeping later in the night.

In addition, when considering a major change to school policy, officials not only have to consider the students, but also the school district and parents. With a later morning start time, the FUSD school district will need to accommodate this change by adjusting their bus schedules, and may need to buy more buses (which do not come cheap) to allow multiple trips each morning. Using their existing school budget on extra buses will take away money that can be spent elsewhere (such as improving the school’s infrastructure so blackouts won’t occur). The school district will also be forced to adjust the timing of after school sport games. between Irvington and other schools. Furthermore, many parents need to go to work early in the morning, and starting school at 8:30 will only make their schedules more chaotic. Because of logistical reasons, starting school later is not a very feasible idea.

The true underlying problem is sleep deprivation. According to a poll including 210 Irvington students, the majority of students (46%) get only 5-6 hours of sleep. An extra half hour of sleep in the morning will not have any significant benefit on students’ sleep times, as they will still get significantly less sleep than the recommended 9.25 hours. Starting school later will only prolong the much larger issue of sleep deprivation in Irvington.