San Bernardino City Unified middle and high schools will start later in 2023-24 – San Bernardino Sun

Students at San Bernardino City Unified middle and high schools will start and end their weekdays later next academic year, a mandate under Senate Bill 328 that will more than double the annual cost for transportation districtwide, to approximately $46 million.

Board members this month awarded five-year contracts to three different transportation providers to ensure the more than 9,000 bus riders in town get to campus on time.

Beginning this fall, local middle schools will start their days at 8 a.m. and end at 2:31 p.m.

High schools will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:35 p.m.

Elementary schools are unaffected by the state regulations.

San Bernardino City Unified, which serves just shy of 49,000 students, presently runs about 191 bus routes at one time, spokesperson Ginger Ontiveros wrote in an email.

“When the late start schedule goes into effect July 31,” she added, “we need to be staffed and equipped to support over 360 bus routes simultaneously.”

While the ninth-largest school district in the state presently operates with a $1 billion annual budget, the doubling of transportation costs this upcoming school year means district officials “will have to cut back in other areas to make up the difference,” Ontiveros said.

“We are currently in budget development for next year,” she added, “so exactly where the funding will be pulled from is unknown at this time.”

Certain Inland school districts, such as Redlands Unified and Fontana Unified, pushed back the start of the school day last year.

San Bernardino City Unified had a 12-month grace period.

Introduced a handful of years ago, Senate Bill 328 included recommendations from medical experts who said an 8:30 a.m. or later start time improves academic success and reduces risky behavior among teenagers.

Critics warned the change would wreck school districts’ complex transportation schedules and parents’ refined morning and afternoon routines.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB328 in 2019, effective July 1, 2022.

The bill made California the first state to mandate later start times.

San Bernardino City Unified will use assorted state funding to offset the higher transportation cost, Ontiveros said.

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