Bakersfield · Education

Valley schools brace for later start times. One district is already making the switch.

The Bakersfield City School District approved a plan Tuesday that would shift 21 of its schools — nearly half — to an 8:50 a.m. start.

The plan comes ahead of a state requirement for later school start times that goes into effect at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year. The legislation, passed in 2019, was designed to give students more sleep and improve youth mental health. Parents and teachers have voiced concerns about getting kids to school.

“I know it’s an inconvenience, (starting) at 8:50,” superintendent Mark Luque said during the meeting.

Following the new plan, BCSD will move its schools into two tiers — 22 schools will start at 8 a.m., and 21 will start at 8:50. The district also aims to shave more than 50 bus routes from its schedule, which could require shuffling of students in schools.

Luque said the district will look to provide extracurricular opportunities before school starts, especially at schools starting at 8:50.

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Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.