Senate Bill 328 (2019), also known as the late start bill goes into effect July 1, 2022. The bill, which was codified in Education Code 46148, mandates that the school day cannot begin before 8 a.m. for middle schools, and 8:30 a.m. for high schools. However, there is an exception built in for “rural school districts,” which would exempt them from the late start requirements. Unfortunately, the bill does not define “rural,” leaving many districts wondering if the late start requirements will apply to their schools. Compounding the confusion is the fact that there are a multitude of definitions for “rural” found in various statutes, regulations and programs.
In an attempt to address this shortcoming, school boards in rural areas are adopting resolutions declaring themselves to be “rural” for purposes of SB 328. These resolutions provide details about the community and describe how the district fits within one or more myriad definitions that could apply, such as:
- The definition of “rural area” from the United States Census Bureau: an area that is not included in an Urbanized Area, which is defined as an area with an urban nucleus of 50,000 or more people and a population density of 1,000 people/square mile
- The designation of rural status for the purposes of funding under the E-Rate program
- The definition of rural for purposes of the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP): a rural school district is one in which “all schools within the LEA must have a school locale code of 41, 42 or 43 (assigned by the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)) or a district that is located in an area of the State defined as rural by a governmental agency of the State.”
- The classification of rural as defined in California School Facilities Program: a school with the locale classification code of 31, 32, 33, 41, 42 or 43 as classified by the National Center for Education Statistics
Because each district is unique, there is no template resolution to rely upon, but CSBA members that subscribe to the District and County Office of Education Legal Services program can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with preparing resolutions specific to their situation.
If you have not already signed up for Legal Services, find out more about how to join the LEAs already enjoying the benefits of legal advice and counsel from CSBA’s attorneys here.