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Greenport BOE split on later start time for high school students

Will Greenport High School students soon start their day a little later?

At Wednesday’s Greenport Board of Education meeting, president Daniel Creedon suggested the first bell at the secondary school be pushed back to a later time.

“We can improve the lives of the young people in our secondary school,” he said. “Attendance is better, grades are better, physical health is better when they get more sleep.”

There are multiple benefits to school starting at a later time, he said.

It’s not the first time the topic has come up for the district. Superintendent David Gamberg previously advocated for a later start time in the district, even floating the concept to Oysterponds Elementary School board members last year.   

A New York Times article from Sept. 2018, cited by Mr. Gamberg at that 2018 meeting, stated that as attendance rises, grades improve and car accidents decrease when schools transition to a later start time and students get more sleep.

High schoolers currently begin classes at 7:45 a.m. The last bell rings at 2:45 p.m., according to the district website.

Mr. Creedon said the major reason the district hasn’t delayed the bell schedule is because it negatively impacts adults.

“Whether it’s more or less convenient for parents, and for those participating in athletics,” he said. “But we’re trying to provide the best academic, social experience in our school that we can for the children.”

He cited the bond as motivation for the change.

“We’re asking the board to spend $[17] million dollars to fix this building so the kids can have a better experience, we should do our part as well,” Mr. Creedon said.

School board members Sandy Martocchia, Kirsten Droskoski and Kim Moore Swann rejected the idea.

Ms. Moore Swann said she doesn’t believe letting students come to school an hour later is going to make them get more sleep.

“I’m not sold on it personally,” she said.

“I’m not sold on it either,” added Ms. Martocchia. “I think it’s not just the adults. The children work after school. And you talk about sports … but if you move those games later, they’re not going to get home till 11 o’clock at night.”

It would not be beneficial to the students, Ms. Droskoski said, unless the delay would apply to all North Fork schools.

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