The Sag Harbor School Board of Education deserves credit for working with its transportation committee to come up with a reasonable way to cut down on transportation costs while also preserving the later start time at Pierson Middle-High School.
Instituting the 15-minute later start time for the 2018-19 school year, adopted on top of a previous 10-minute later start for 2015-16, has not been without its share of headaches, but the peer-reviewed medical research on the benefits of a middle and high school start time of 8:30 a.m. is abundantly clear, as board member Alex Kriegsman rightly pointed out Monday as he moved to support adding a sixth afternoon bus route at Pierson instead of a plan that would roll back the school start time by 10 minutes. While the Sag Harbor School District is a pioneer for later start times on the East End, it is still 40 minutes behind when many medical professionals believe middle and high school aged children should start their day.
It is true the rollout of later start has not been without it controversy and legitimate issues and it will be incumbent on the school community, including the board of education, to make the transition easier — when possible — on the students it has impacted most. Change is challenging, but policies that support the mental health of our children should be our greatest priority, especially when the research is so abundantly clear.