CSBA convenes first meeting of Small School District Advisory Group
New workgroup will ensure CSBA receives direct input from representative small and rural districts
CSBA is excited to launch a new Small School District Advisory Workgroup to provide the small-district perspective to the governance, policy and advocacy issues that CSBA is engaged in. The first virtual meeting was held on Aug. 16, comprising 13 small and rural districts from throughout California.

The goal of the first meeting was to collect the perspective of small districts on the implementation of Senate Bill 328 — known as the late start bill — and what effects it has had for districts, students and families. In an effort to address sleep deprivation among students, the bill also created significant challenges for districts related to transportation, staffing, bell schedules, extracurriculars and more.

While some participants expressed that, for the most part, their district had not been impacted, that wasn’t a common refrain among those in attendance.

“Even though it doesn’t directly affect us, it does affect us,” explained trustee John Quintanilla of Rosemead Elementary School District — a K-8 district in Los Angeles County. The local high school district saw a shift in scheduling, and with so much overlap in families served, Rosemead had to work to accommodate families as they attempted to adjust. The district began to offer more before- and after-school programming, which affected employee schedules.

2 moms walk with their kids near a school bus
In San Diego County, Warner Unified School District Board President Melissa Krogh said that in the rural district she works in — Julian Union High School District — a parent survey showed families couldn’t move to a late start because their job schedules remained the same. “They would have been dropping the kids off at school at 7 o’clock in the morning regardless of whether we were starting at 8 or 8:30,” she said.

Quintanilla expressed similar issues, noting that his community comprises blue collar workers who simply don’t have the flexibility to move their schedule around.

One trustee — Richard Severy of Moraga ESD, a K-8 district in Contra Costa County — said the district had already moved to a later start time around 2018 following a few years of preparation and extensive communication with families.

“There was some consternation beforehand about how it might impact families, but after we implemented the later start time, it went pretty smoothly and became a non-issue almost immediately. People adjusted, teachers are fine with the new schedule, and families are fine with it. We didn’t have many of the other issues that other districts are experiencing,” he said.

The superintendent spent a lot of time “educating the board and the community about a lot of the available research on the benefits of pushing back the start time at our middle school. It was sort of an educational effort,” Severy said, and also required coordination between the district and the busing agency to allow for the change.