The Rockland-area school district board voted Thursday night, Sept. 5, to create a committee to study transportation issues that could affect the start time for students.

The committee will consist of parents, bus drivers, teachers, administrators and board members. The Regional School Unit 13 Board's Finance and Facilities Committee is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at McLain School to recommend the number of people to serve on the committee, as well as when the panel should issue its recommendations.

Board member Tom Peaco of Rockland said at the board's Sept. 5 meeting that the recommendations should be issued early enough that the board can consider changes for the 2020-2021 school year.

Superintendent John McDonald said the committee will have public forums to get input from the community. "We don't have preconceived notions," the superintendent said.

He said the bus schedules could end up remaining the same or something completely different. The goal is to have the most efficient, effective transportation system, he said.

Board Chair Loren Andrews agreed, saying the committee will look at the best research, pointing out the science of the biological clocks of teenagers.

In late 2016 and early 2017, RSU 13 considered changing the start time of schools to have middle and high school classes begin and end an hour later and elementary classes start and end an hour earlier.

Students from grades six through 12 now arrive at the middle and high schools at 7:30 a.m., with classes ending at 2 p.m. Elementary schools begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m.

One option that the committee may study is single bus runs so that all schools can start at the same time.

Business Manager Peter Orne said issues such as how many stops buses should make and the distance within which students, depending on their grade level, could be expected to walk to school will also be looked at by the committee.