Yarmouth school times require added Chebeague ferries

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YARMOUTH — The Town Council has approved an agreement with the Chebeague Transportation Co. to add two ferry trips to accommodate the new Yarmouth school schedule.

Councilors on Aug. 18 approved the pact 6-1, with Councilor David Craig opposed. One trip from Chebeague will be added in the morning and one to the island in the afternoon.

The School Committee on May 26 decided to start and end the school day 20 minutes later at all four Yarmouth schools. Without the added ferries, the nearly three dozen students from Chebeague Island would still have to take the regularly scheduled morning ferry and arrive at school early. 

“The objective with the children is to keep their school day as manageable as possible,” CTC President Mike Conroy said Aug. 18.

Chebeague Island residents attend elementary school on the island from kindergarten to fifth grade and go to Yarmouth schools for sixth through 12th grades.

To accommodate students, a ferry from the island to the mainland will now leave at 7:05 a.m. The first ferry of the day, which used to leave at 6:40 a.m., will leave at 6:30 a.m.

In the afternoon, a 2:50 p.m. departure for Chebeague will be replaced by ferries at 2:15 p.m. and 3:05 p.m.

“In essence we’ve had to add two boats because we couldn’t push the original boats far enough back to accommodate the new schedule and still address the needs of our ridership,” Conroy said.

The Chebeague Island School Department sought the amendment and will pay an additional $7,000 to CTC on top of the $50,000 it already pays each year, according to Chebeague Superintendent/Principal Mike Pulsifer. 

The amended service was approved by the council on a one-year trial basis and will be evaluated in June. It won’t be in effect during the summer or on weekends, but will stay in effect during school-year vacation periods.

CTC won’t provide additional bus service with the amended ferry service. Yarmouth school buses will pick up students at the dock on the mainland.

Several residents at the Aug. 18 Town Council meeting said they were concerned about increased ridership. Some said they were worried more traffic will be going to the dock to pick riders up.

Conroy said that shouldn’t be a concern because ridership isn’t expected to increase.

“We look at it as a redistribution,” he said.

School starts in Yarmouth on Sept. 6. The decision to push back start and end times was based on research that shows students function more effectively if they are allowed to sleep later.

First period at Yarmouth High School will begin at 8 a.m. and school will end at 2:45 p.m. Classes will begin at 8:10 a.m. at Frank H. Harrison Middle School, where the day will also end at 2:45 p.m. Yarmouth Elementary School and the William H. Rowe School will both start at 8:40 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.