In the same week Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill advocating a later start time for schools across the state, officials at Monterey High School asked for and received such an accommodation.
The Burbank Unified school board voted 5-0 on Thursday to move back the start of classes by 45 minutes so the continuation school can switch an extra help session from the afternoon to the morning.
Beginning Oct. 9, first period will begin at 8:45 a.m. rather than at 8 a.m. at Monterey High, and students will leave school at 1:40 p.m. instead of 12:55 p.m.
This adjustment means that a tutoring period known as the Extra Help session will now be available from 8 to 8:42 a.m., rather than the current time slot from 12:55 to 1:37 p.m.
The push was primarily driven by the Monterey staff since parent feedback was sparse. Despite a presentation at Back to School Night, only 16 parents responded to a survey, with 13 (81%) in favor of the change.
“We originally established an extra-help period so that the kids could feel free to go to whatever teacher they needed help from,” Monterey principal Ann Brooks said during the meeting. “The only problem was it was at the end of the day and friends leaving campus is just too compelling to stay for extra help. That is one of the reasons we’d like to move it to the morning.”
Staff suggested that a schedule switch would help students not involved in a help session take advantage of more sleep, give students who struggle to finish homework a chance to complete assignments in the morning and potentially allow clubs and parents to hold meetings earlier.
“It’s really all about recovering as much instructional time as we possibly can,” Monterey assistant principal David Guyer said. “All the research shows that students should start later.”
Guyer said 15% of Monterey students could not enroll in a first-period class because they do not arrive at school in time.
On top of that, Monterey students posted 445 tardies in the first quarter, which ran from July 1 to Sept. 15. Thirty-four of those arrivals were over 30 minutes late, while students were also responsible for 177 fully unexcused first-period absences.
“We have an attendance rate of nearly 90%,” Brooks said. “So, it isn’t that we don’t get them there. We don’t get them there in the morning.”
The effort drew the praise of a couple of board members, including Steve Ferguson.
“I really appreciate that as academic leaders you saw a problem, addressed it and said this is the way we can really support our student population in the best way possible,” Ferguson said.
Roberta Reynolds, board president, added, “I just want to commend you as you’re always coming up with innovative ideas and ways you can give your students another chance. The heart is always there.”