Sag Harbor Community to Weigh in on Later School Start Via Survey

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Pierson Middle-High School in the spring of 2017. Christine Sampson photo

By Christine Sampson

Parents, students, school employees and community members in Sag Harbor now have the chance to formally weigh in on the value — or lack thereof — of starting school later by responding to a survey released Tuesday by school administrators.

For the last several months, the administration has been exploring the feasibility of starting Pierson Middle-High School at 8 a.m., reviving a discussion that took place a few years ago that ultimately led to a 10-minute change in the school day starting in 2015. The Sag Harbor School Board last summer made one of its goals to “find a way to start school at 8 a.m.”

That goal was set in recognition of a growing body of research from organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control, which have found higher risks of health problems in teens and adolescents such as depression, sleep deprivation and substance abuse associated with very early school start times.

The survey on later school start times is available on the Sag Harbor School District website, sagharborschools.org. It is accompanied by links to independent organizations’ medical research as well as Sag Harbor administrators’ research into the potential impact a later Pierson start time may have on busing and athletics.

Sag Harbor superintendent Katy Graves said Tuesday while the survey is not scientific in nature, and it could not be constrained in such a way that would limit it to one survey per person, it will still be a valuable tool.

“I think that while it doesn’t have the quality of a community vote, where you know that is one vote, one person, the administrators are hoping to get a sense from the community, the parents, the students, the faculty and staff of where they weigh in on the start time,” she said. “It gives all the stakeholders in the Sag Harbor community one other form of communication, another form of feedback, just as it did with Stella Maris.”

The survey is open until 8 a.m. on Monday, June 19. The results will be shared that night at the school board meeting, the open portion of which will begin at 7:30 p.m. The results will also be posted online, Ms. Graves said.

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