- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - A state Senate committee on Tuesday discussed a bill proposed by students from Snohomish County that would move the start time for public schools one hour later next year.

The Senate Education Committee also talked about cursive writing and more money for career and technical education supplies. And the committee passed a measure that would give student journalists more editorial freedom.

Testimony on the start-time proposal known as the “Sandman Act” included information from the granddaughter of the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell.

Olivia McAuliffe and two other students from Snohomish High School shared the current research on teen sleep deprivation. They said learning will improve while tardiness and student car accidents will go down if schools start later.

Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, said he is concerned about taking this decision out of the hands of local school boards.

Another student, John Lynch, expressed a willingness to soften the bill. “It wasn’t intended to come off as forceful,” Lynch said.

Senate Bill 6429 in its current form says “all public schools shall start one hour later than the time they started in the 2015-16 school year.”

The students said they would also be open to amending the bill to make exceptions for school districts that have already decided on later start times. Some Washington districts like Seattle and Mercer Island have already chosen to change start times to let teens sleep in.

The committee also heard Senate Bill 6569 that would mandate students learn how to write in cursive again. Although the state has never passed a law saying cursive is no longer mandatory, sponsor Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said that is how most districts have interpreted the existing rules.

Senate Bill 6415 to increase money for supplies in career and technical programs received an enthusiastic hearing with testimony by dozens of people.

Although the Legislature has increased state money for all classroom supplies, money going to career and technical classrooms has fallen behind because they are not getting the extra money they used to get under the old system.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 6415, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D- Bainbridge Island, said the bill would cost about $43 million during the 2017-19 biennium and nearly $16 million during the rest of the current budget cycle.

The Senate Education Committee also passed several bills out of committee on Tuesday, including a measure that would give students more freedom of expression in school-sponsored media. The measure, Senate Bill 6233, would prohibit school districts and administrators from censoring or requiring prior approval of articles in student newspapers, which are currently treated more as class assignments than independent media.

The bill had both bipartisan support and opposition at the committee level.

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