Here’s Why We Don’t Have Late Start Every Week


Christopher Kathman

Some students are confused as to why some days, we don’t have late start Wednesdays.

Drake Trent, Feature Editor

This school year saw a shocking change to the standard Sage Creek High School schedule. At least once a month there is one non-late start Wednesday, a change from having late starts in the previous years every week without fail, much to the chagrin of the average student here at Sage. Many students are curious as to why this change happened.

The general idea is that Sage Creek needs to meet the California state instructional minute requirements, but many students are unsure if laws have changed or why this is happening now. The system for deciding the amount of minutes and determining what constitutes a minute of instructional time can be confusing to someone who is not familiar with all the fine print of the laws.

Assistant Superintendent Rob Nye sat down with us and explained the process of deciding instructional minutes and what constitutes an “instructional minute.”

“Each school gets … a calculator at the beginning of the year, where they put in their regular schedules, their minimum day schedules, their passing periods, and then it spits out a formula of minutes for that day,” Nye said.

This calculator helps school administrations plan for the year and get days down on the calendar. It’s a California standard that high schools have a grand total of 64,800 minutes per year. It’s up to the administration to determine with the calculator where to cut minutes or add minutes.

“If you dip beneath the 64,800, you’re pretty severely penalized,” Nye said.

The fine for failing to meet those minutes can differ from school to school, depending on overall attendance and minutes missed. The state hands down these penalties and expects monetary recompense, alongside future punishments if the issues persist from year to year.

All schools need to decide themselves on how to meet the minute requirement; it is not the responsibility of the district to set the schedule. Districts will try to enforce the schedule that the school has set and make sure to check in and help keep schools on track. César Morales, the principal of Sage Creek, and the other staff members have figured out the schedule since last year and chose to cut some late start Wednesdays this year.

Morales further explained the reasoning at the school level for the changes. There were quite a few variables that went into the decision and it wasn’t simply made with no thought for students. Many of the late starts were cut off in order to not only meet requirements for the school hours, but to create an emergency bank of hours.

“We have about a day’s worth of hours in excess,” Morales said.

The cutting of late starts was done in case of emergency and specifically if California state does not offer a waiver for said emergency. This has a special use this year with the recent Lilac fire, which Carlsbad Unified School District (CUSD) was closed for. Had that day not declared a state of emergency, CUSD would have had the legal responsibility to make up those hours. Having that day backlogged ensures that the last day of school remains on June 14, instead of being pushed back another day to make up for time lost.

Regardless of these considerations, many students still bemoan the loss of their late starts once a month. Students are reminded once a month and feel the loss anew each time. Senior Braden Cornwall, who has experienced years with late starts and this year without as many late starts, feels the entire situation is negative and ultimately avoidable.

“I think it’s horrible … they didn’t plan the school year very well,” Cornwall said.

Many returning students share this sentiment, but lack a clear conclusion as to why it all happened. While some understand the need to meet requirements, there was very little communication from the administration before the change came.

Cornwall felt adding an extra day before or after breaks would make up the difference and be a worthy sacrifice.

“We might as well get rid of the extra day [of break],” Cornwall said.