Continuing a discussion about how to reduce transportation costs, the five members of the Sag Harbor School Board of Education at Monday night’s meeting approved a resolution to add one bus run to Pierson Middle-High School in the afternoon for the 2019-20 school year — a decision that preserves the school’s later start time.
One of six options originally proposed by the district’s transportation committee, “Option C” creates an additional in-house bus run after school for a total of six runs. According to the transportation committee’s estimates, it will save the district an estimated $200,000 to $235,000 in subcontracted bus service with Montauk Student Transportation. On Monday, Superintendent Katy Graves noted there will be logistical issues adding the bus run to the current loop at Pierson, necessitating a security guard to ensure student safety.
The other alternative on the table Monday night, known as “Option D,” would have moved the start time at Pierson 10 minutes earlier to 7:40 a.m.
“It takes away from the board’s long-term goal for a later start time, which they have been working very hard to set back,” said Ms. Graves, adding that changing times back and forth “can be a real challenge for parents when they are establishing routines.”
Board member Alex Kriegsman said he felt “very strongly” that “Option C” was the best path forward, noting the district has been furnished with numerous peer-reviewed medical studies that suggest start times before 8:30 a.m. can impact school performance and depression in students, among other issues. “We are already 40 minutes from that time, and I think moving that start time backwards would be a big step backwards,” he said.
Agreeing with Mr. Kriegsman, board member Susan Lamontagne said, “I think this recommendation is a no-brainer and I hope we can put this to rest tonight.”
Board member Chris Tice agreed, but added, “I have to say the rollout of later start is one of the things we didn’t do well. I think it was rolled out without vetting the repercussions … There are holes in this that need to be plugged but that does not take away from the fact that option one is the healthiest option.”