No school before 8:30 a.m.? Ohio lawmaker unveils start time bill

Ohio lawmaker unveils start time bill, no school before 8:30 a.m.

Ohio public schools would not be allowed to begin their school day before 8:30 a.m. if a newly introduced bill passes the Ohio legislature.

Sen. Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland, introduced Senate Bill 218 this week, days after California's governor signed a related bill into law. The Ohio law would apply to district, charter and STEM schools at all grade levels.

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Several leading American medical groups have said teens shouldn’t start school before 8:30 a.m. The American Academy of Pediatrics says adolescents’ natural rhythms make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m., and teens lacking sleep often suffered from health problems, an increased risk of car accidents and a decline in academic performance.

The vast majority of middle schools and high schools in the Dayton area start earlier, as they cite busing costs, safety issues and student/family activity schedules. Local schools start as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 9:20 a.m.

California's law was rejected twice by lawmakers before a version passed. The version being enacted applies only to middle schools (8 a.m. start) and high schools (8:30 start). It exempts some rural school districts as well as optional classes and will be phased in over three years, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In interviews this summer, local school leaders have argued against a one-size-fits-all requirement for the state. Staggered busing times are a key part of it, as they save schools money. Some local parents also worried a later school start time would mean they'd have to leave for work while their young children were still home.