NJ school boards say high school start time should be local issue
Legislation recently proposed by state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, and Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, that would mandate a start time of no earlier than 8:30 a.m. for New Jersey high schools is getting some pushback from the New Jersey School Boards Association.
If signed into law, the measure (A3816 / S2462), introduced March 25, would apply to "certain public schools that receive State aid" beginning with the 2024-2025 academic year.
But as NJSBA told The Center Square in a report published Friday, the organization believes school start times are a matter best left to individual districts, not a statewide rule.
Janet Bamford, NJSBA chief public affairs officer, told the publication that local school boards should determine high school start times "in response to local needs, conditions, and community input," listing a number of complicating factors including transportation costs, extracurricular activity scheduling, and impact on younger students, both within families with high schoolers and overall.
However, she acknowledged studies that have shown U.S. adolescents are not getting adequate amounts of sleep, and that later school starts may help.
The Center Square report said the state's largest and most powerful teachers' union, the New Jersey Education Association, has not yet reviewed the proposed legislation, but is also aware of such studies, and feels "any reform that might benefit students is well worth considering and implementing."
Coughlin and Gopal's companion bills have the backing of the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.