Lawmakers eyeing later school start times statewide

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A new bill could require school districts statewide to begin classes later in the day.

Studies show students aren’t getting enough sleep and it could be impacting brain development.

The new bill, SB 6429, would require all public schools to start one hour later.

On Tuesday, students testified at the state Capitol, urging lawmakers to push the bill forward.

“I have to wake up at 6 in the morning because it’s a 30-minute drive,” said Olivia McAuliffe. “It’s hard.”

Three students from Snohomish High School told lawmakers it’s time to let them sleep in, all in the name of medical science.

Studies show kids, especially teenagers, don’t get enough sleep.

Doctors with the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests middle and high school students should start classes later in the day to help them get more rest and concentrate better in school.

“I do find it hard to do all my extra curriculars,” said student Josh Lynch, “And get all my homework done while trying to get enough sleep."

Lawmakers worry kids don’t perform as well on little sleep, and say that can lead to physical and mental health problems.

The later start would begin in the 2016-17 school year.

The Mercer Island School District already begins classes later in the day to help kids get a running start.

Doctors believe the science is a no-brainer.

“The research is pretty clear we get better results starting later,” said child psychologist Gregory Jantz.

But some moms said it’s hard to get a teenager to bed before they’re ready.

“I thought maybe I need to be a tougher parent, maybe I just need to get him to bed earlier and get him up earlier,” said Taeya Lauer. “We tried that. He went to bed earlier and he tossed and turned.”

For now, SB 6429 is in committee and it has still has yet to get approval by lawmakers.

If passed, it would become law 90 days after the legislative session ends.