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Jul 6, 2017 2:37 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sag Harbor School Board Votes To Make Start Times Later

Pierson Middle/High School. JON WINKLER
Jul 11, 2017 2:15 PM

Students in the Sag Harbor School District will get some extra time to sleep before heading off to class this fall.

The Sag Harbor School Board voted to change the start times at both Pierson Middle/High School and Sag Harbor Elementary School at the board’s annual organizational meeting on July 5.

According to tSchool Board President Diana Kolhoff, Pierson’s start time was moved up 15 minutes: from 7:35 a.m. with a 2:36 p.m. dismissal, to 7:50 a.m. with a 2:51 p.m. dismissal. The Sag Harbor Elementary School’s start time was moved up five minutes: from 8:45 a.m. with a 3:20 p.m. dismissal, to 8:50 a.m. with a 3:25 p.m. dismissal.

“The new start time allows students to sleep longer and be more refreshed before going to school,” Ms. Kolhoff said last Thursday, July 6.

The vote comes after several months of discussion between the board and district residents. School Board officials have been pointing to studies cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics stating that high school students can suffer physical and mental health problems if they don’t get enough sleep because they have to attend early-morning classes.

Parents and others have cited concerns about having elementary and high school students on the same buses, however, fearing that younger children will hear age-inappropriate conversation, or will be bullied by older students. Others have expressed concern about how the start times will affect after-school activities.

“There are concerns that the start times may hurt students in shared sports teams getting to their practices at 3 p.m. in other towns,” Ms. Kolhoff said. “We’ve heard from the community about these concerns for the shared sports kids, and how we address this will be up for debate.”

Ms. Kolhoff said the district might be able to set up an early release time for those students who play team sports, but said the board would need to gather specific information about the time it would take them to get to practices.

The board last changed both schools’ start times in August 2015 by making them 10 minutes later. Members of the community and the board thought that was not enough time, Ms. Kolhoff said.

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