Board member advocates for later high school start times

School board  to begin conversation at October 10 board meeting

Early start times for high school go against the established research on teens’ biological clocks.  San Diego Unified Board Member John Lee Evans is advocating for the school district to eventually set 8:30 a.m. as the earliest start time for our high school students.  Currently most of the high schools start around 7:30 a.m.

Recently SB 328 mandating later start times for high schools was approved by the State Senate, but did not garner enough votes in the Assembly.  It is now up to local districts.

Research has shown that the circadian rhythm of post-pubescent teens makes it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11:00 p.m. Sleep deprivation causes serious problems.  Two out of three U.S. high school students are sleep deprived.  Later start times can result in reduced tardiness and absences, as well as students performing better, especially in first period classes.  A later start can improve driving safety, emotional and physical well being and academic achievement. Schools that end later are still able to participate in all athletic and other extracurricular activities. San Diego Unified already has a later start time at one high school, Kearny High School, which starts at 8:45 a.m.

Research has shown that later start times do not significantly affect students’ bedtimes, so there is a significant gain in sleep time.

Based upon this evidence a later start time is supported by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and the National PTA.

Board Members John Lee Evans and Sharon Whitehurst-Payne will make a proposal at the next school board meeting to review the feasibility of later school start times of 8:30 or later for secondary schools while giving priority to the district’s high schools.  The district will not mandate a change from the top, but will give each school community an opportunity to review the research and petition the district for change. Any change will depend on finding a means to make the change without increasing transportation costs.

Guiding principles for SD Unified budgeting

Prior to beginning the budget process for the next year we need to declare our guiding principles, so that we don’t have to start each year at Square One.

First the top focus needs to be on those expenditures that lead to greater student achievement.  Second, we need to be fiscally responsible.  The key is to integrate these two items.  Bottom line: we need to live within our means.

How have we been doing the past few years?  Student achievement, broad curriculum and meaningful graduation have all gone up.  What about the fiscal health of the district? The structural deficit has been mostly eliminated.

There is a narrative out there that the district has continued to increase the staff while the student enrollment has gradually gone down.  FALSE.  Here are the facts:


2012-2013**      10,899

2017-2018           9,936

Net loss:        963 positions (8.8%)

*Number of employees is higher than number of full time equivalent positions,because some are part time employees

**Year before Cindy Marten became Superintendent

Certificated positions: From 6632 to 6054 = Net loss of 578 (8.7%)

Classified positions: From 3758 to 3425 = Net loss of 333 (8.9%)

Management positions: From 510 to 456 = Net loss of 54 (10.6%)


2012-2013       113,279

2017-2018      105,793

Net loss:          7,486 students  (6.6%)

We must continue to adjust staff upwards or downwards each year depending on student enrollment.  This is living within our means, because the state pays us according to the number of students attending.

Focused on student success while living within our means