Ridgefield High School students won\u2019t be setting their alarm clocks an hour later next year. The Board of Education voted Monday, Dec. 10, to throw out a decision it made in October 2017 to implement later start times for the 2019-20 school year. \u201cI think you heard the board saying that at some point this could come back ... but not at this point, not for 2019-20,\u201d said Chairwoman Margaret Stamatis, who confirmed the board will not vote on start times again during the 2018-19 school year. \u201cIt's not an easy decision,\u201d she said. Members of the board voted 6-1 to rescind the 2017 motion on start times, with board member Carina Borgia-Drake casting the sole vote against. Board members Jonathan Steckler and Vice Chairman Doug Silver were both absent from the meeting. Stamatis said the current start times at the district\u2019s nine schools will remain in place, with Ridgefield High School starting first at 7:25 a.m. followed by the two middle schools at 8. Branchville, Ridgebury, and Scotland Elementary schools begin at 8:35, under the school board\u2019s current start time policy, and Barlow Mountain, Farmingville, and Veterans Park Elementary schools start at 9:10. Board Secretary Kathleen Holz said the board received 114 emails against later school start times and 18 emails for the proposed change. At Monday night\u2019s meeting, 13 residents gave public comment \u2014 10 were against the later start times initiative, three in favor. \u201cThere are a myriad of issues that need to be resolved,\u201d said Stephen Cole, a substitute teacher and coach at RHS. He argued that with later end times as a result of starting an hour later, student athletes would have to leave class early to attend games. \u201cEducational excellence is achieved in the classroom, not in the back of the bus,\u201d Cole said. \u201cPutting students between teachers and their coaches is unconscionable.\u201d Others cited the lack of a permanent superintendent. \u201cWhy would we approve an initiative like this without a superintendent?\u201d said Pond Road resident Bryan Ward. He also raised concern about the potential impact on sports, after-school programs, and local businesses who depend on high school student employees. \u201cAs a parent, a coach, and a taxpayer, I\u2019m not buying it,\u201d Ward said. Superintendent Board members said they felt the project could not be done effectively without a permanent superintendent in place. \u201cI can\u2019t see how without having a permanent superintendent in place \u2014 who would be the person responsible for creating and implementing this plan \u2014 that there\u2019s the possibility that this could occur in a positive way for the 2019-20 school year,\u201d said board member Sharon D\u2019Orso. \u201cThat doesn\u2019t mean that I don\u2019t still believe in the science,\u201d she added. Borgia-Drake said she agreed the lack of a permanent superintendent would hinder the ability to implement later start times in the 2019-20 school year, but that students \u201chaving six hours of sleep continues to be a concern.\u201d \u201cI would hope that we would have this be something that we keep as a priority for our board and for our children,\u201d she said. Borgia-Drake said the board should take another look at elementary schools that end late \u2014 Barlow Mountain, Farmingville, and Veterans Park all end at 4 p.m. \u2014 and students who are not getting the \u201cfull educational benefit of their last period.\u201d \u2018Tremendous\u2019 cost The board also cited concerns about the cost of the project. A scenario the board asked the superintendent\u2019s office to investigate at an Oct. 22 meeting would have cost an estimated $2.77 million. \u201cI believe the science \u2026 but I cannot at this point agree to $2.7 million being taken out of our children\u2019s education at this time,\u201d said Holz. \u201cThe cost is just tremendous,\u201d said board member Jim Keidel. \u201cI\u2019d rather see those resources go to curriculum, or repairing buildings, or paying teachers, or things that we can see something tangible.\u201d Five elementary schools would have started at 8 a.m. under that proposed scenario. But according to School Bus Consultants, the consultants hired by the board to come up with new busing plans for later start times, shifting only those five early-start elementary schools back by 10 minutes would drop the cost to $1.58 million \u2014 a savings of almost $1.2 million. Transportation issues It was that inconsistency that some board members said gave them pause, and raised doubts about the school transportation system as it currently stands. \u201cThis report highlights to me that even with the current bus runs as they are, we still have some transportation issues that we\u2019re trying to resolve,\u201d said Stamatis. All of the bell-time scenarios the board looked at that would have moved the schools back to a three-tier bus system came with an additional cost. \u201cWhen we went to the four-tier system, we locked ourselves into a really difficult position,\u201d said board member Fran Walton. \u201cIt was done with an immediate cost savings\u2026 with no thought to anything down the road.\u201d Public Danbury Road resident Lisa Moore said the schools needed to focus on asbestos removal at Scotland and the removal of underground oil storage tanks at Veterans Park Elementary and East Ridge Middle School \u2014 both projects included in the board\u2019s capital improvements request. Moore called the start times project \u201cfiscally irresponsible.\u201d \u201cAny money allocated to school start times will be money cut from our teachers,\u201d said Moore. But not all were against the change. \u201cWe need to move forward with this,\u201d said Jessica Mancini, the current vice chairwoman of the Ridgefield Board of Finance. \u201c[The] extra hour of sleep is invaluable,\u201d said Louzette Dovaras, a Barrack Hill Road resident. She argued that the board\u2019s \u201cinvestments in other areas\u201d will not get their \u201creturn on investment\u201d if kids aren\u2019t getting adequate sleep. Sandra Mahoney of Wild Turkey Court asked everyone opposed to later start times to stand and show the board where the majority of Ridgefield parents \u2014 and taxpayers \u2014 stood on the issue. Forty six residents followed that request and rose up in front of the Board of Education and district administrators. \u201cI ask the Board of Education to make a motion to rescind the approval of the the former superintendent\u2019s recommendation to change school start times for the 2019-20 school year\u201d Mahoney said. \u201cIn the interest of time, so you can proceed with the actual business of your meeting, I ask all those here who are in support of this statement to stand and be counted for the public record.\u201d Editor's note: an earlier version of this story attributed Kerry Knop as the speaker who asked parents to stand in support of rescinding the vote on later start times. It was Sandra Mahoney. This story has been updated.