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Apr 4, 2017 3:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Parents Air Concerns About Later School Start Times, And Bus Trips, At Sag Harbor Schools

Frank Sokolowski, a father of three, speaking about concerns of the possible change in start times for the Pierson Middle/High and Sag Harbor Elementary School. JON WINKLER
Apr 4, 2017 4:59 PM

Parents of younger Sag Harbor School District students voiced concerns at a meeting on Monday night about the School Board’s plan to make a districtwide change to start and dismissal times.

Several plans are under consideration to delay the start time for older students. The discussion of change was motivated in part by studies cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics that indicate that high school students who don’t get enough sleep and have to make early-morning classes can suffer physical and mental health problems.

However, many attending Monday night’s meeting appeared to be against making any time changes, especially if it would mean combining bus runs for younger and high school students, as one of the options offered by Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols and Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matthew Malone would involve.

Marion Tanner, a sixth grade science teacher at Southampton Intermediate School, told the board that mixing high school students with younger students on the same buses could expose the younger children to inappropriate behavior.

“You don’t know what goes on on those buses—most bullying happens on those buses,” Ms. Tanner said. “When you’re sitting here talking about what’s best for high school kids, and yet kindergartners are subjected to that kind of behavior, it presents a conflict.”

Scott Rascelles, the father of a third-grader and a sixth-grader, said he was “adamantly opposed” to the idea of mixing older and younger students on buses. “I had my sixth-grader coming home from school one day and saying a word that upsets me,” he said, further stating that he knows offensive language is common among high school kids. “These kids are young adults—they’ll do whatever they want.”

Don O’Brien, the father of a fifth-grader and a third-grader, said he had done his own independent research.

“A later start time doesn’t equal student success—more sleep does,” Mr. O’Brien said. “High school students stay up extra late on weekends and therefore have a harder time going to bed earlier on the weekdays. You need to be a parent and say, ‘You need to go to bed at 9 p.m. on weekdays so you can get a good night’s sleep.’”

Currently, school day at Pierson is 7:35 a.m. to 2:36 p.m. At the elementary school, it is 8:45 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.

Under one scenario, the start time for high school students at Pierson would move from 7:35 to 8 a.m., and dismissal from 2:36 to 3:01 p.m.—which would allow Pierson students and the elementary school students to continue taking separate buses. In an alternative, the afternoon bus runs for kindergarten through 12th grade would be combined, with Pierson students starting the day at 8 a.m. and getting out at 3:01 p.m., and the elementary school day starting at 8:35 finishing at 3:10 p.m. instead of 3:20 p.m.—which means students from both schools would travel home together on buses.

Under a third option, the start times of Pierson and the elementary school would be swapped, pushing Pierson’s start time to 8 a.m. and the elementary school’s earlier, to 7:35 a.m., with students of different ages continuing to take separate buses, as they do now.

A fourth option would delay Pierson’s start time by 15 minutes, to 7:50 a.m., with the day ending at 2:51 p.m.; the elementary school’s start time would be delayed five minutes, to 8:50 a.m., with dismissal at 3:25 p.m. Pierson and elementary school students would have separate bus rides under this scenario.

Discussion of new start times for the high school date back to 2014, and are fueled in part by the fact that Pierson Middle/High School starts classes at 7:25 a.m., which is early compared to other East End districts.

School Superintendent Katy Graves said that Mr. Nichols’s and Mr. Malone’s next step will be to meet with the district’s athletic director, Eric Bramoff, this week to discuss how the district’s sports programs would be affected by a school schedule that ends later in the day, which could conflict with after-school sports programs.

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What a joke this is. No need to ever get up and go to work at 7am. All businesses should open at noon so all the snowflakes can get their rest. How about lay off the social media and go to bed. More excuses for lack of performance in schools. Sad commentary on our educational system.
By The Real World (364), southampton on Apr 5, 17 8:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
Gosh darn science loving snowflakes, able to prove their ideas with correlating evidence instead of just growling that back in my day, we were tougher, stronger, smarter and did I say tougher?! How dare they try and ruin the time honored tradition of making children unnecessarily miserable and tired, stunting physical, mental and psychological growth, for no reason at all except that's what I did when I was younger. I was miserable and tired too, and look how I turned out! Book learning is book ...more
By Brandon Quinn (189), Hampton Bays on Apr 7, 17 12:12 PM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser