Child care to be offered during early dismissals

Reacting to complaints from parents about the new policy of dismissing students an hour early every Monday, the board of education (BOE) in Windsor Locks recently voted to use paraprofessionals to provide one hour of child care for younger students affected by early dismissals.

Gregory A. Scibelli of Reminder News reported  that a protocol for parents wanting to have their children supervised at school is pending. School began August 29 in this Connecticut school district. BOE Chairman Patricia King said that parents will be responsible for transportation home at the end of the hour.

Superintendent Wayne C. Sweeney had written a letter to parents in June announcing his decision to dismiss students one hour early each Monday in the 2011-2012  school year so that teachers would have Professional Learning Community (PLC) time.

Seminole County superintendent threatens to cut music, art, and athletics

Schools in Seminole County, Florida, could cut music, art, and athletics to make up for a $22 million budget shortfall. WFTV Orlando. reported that the county could also close down schools or go on a four-day week.

Superintendent Bill Vogel said he doesn’t support cutting the programs, but doesn’t have many other options. He wants to put a voter referendum on the presidential primary ballot in March, so it won’t cost anymore money.

The board is asking for a one mil increase, which would bring an extra $25 million to the district every year. The board will discuss budget cuts again in September.

Santa Rosa County cuts school day by 30 minutes

Santa Rosa County, Florida, has cut the school day by 30 minutes for for students, according to

“The teachers work the same hours. They just have more preparation time. And you give a good teacher more preparation time, and the lesson is that much better,” said Buddy Powell, Hobb’s Middle School principal.

This year the students are in school only 6 hours per day.   If the teachers work the same hours, where is the money being saved? This is a step backwards. How long will it take for students to gain that half hour back in their schedules?

Chicago plans a longer school day and year in 2012-13

On August 23  Chicago Public School officials  announced plans to extend the shortest school day in the nation by an additional 90 minutes and two weeks to provide the critical instructional time needed to boost student achievement. National research and experts all point to the correlation between a longer day and year and improved student performance in the classroom. CPS will implement a strategy to extend the day and year for the 2012-13 school year beginning this fall and will engage stakeholders to help build a plan to ensure a successful transition.

The Chicago Sun Times earlier reported  that Mayor Rahm Emanuel “said that if the school day grows by 18 percent— going from five hours and 45 minutes to six hours and 45 minutes or more — that doesn’t necessarily mean teachers’ pay will also be boosted 18 percent by the cash-strapped school board.” Read the rest of this entry »

Turnover coming on Fairfax School Board – The Washington Post

Commenting on a Washington Post article  about the Fairfax County school board race, I quoted candidate Steve Stuban’s statement that school board members need to encourage greater community participation in the governance of Fairfax County Public Schools: “Basically, it’s improving customer service and recognizing that the public is the paying customer.”

Students need more time in school!

Shortchanged by the Bell  is a must-read op-ed in today’s New York Times.  Luis A. Ubiñas, the president of the Ford Foundation, and Chris Gabarieli, the chairman of the National Center on Time and Learning, said that our school calendar, with its six-and-a-half-hour day and 180–day year, was designed for yesterday’s farm economy, not today’s high-tech one.

They note that some districts have even shorter hours. They didn’t include mention of Fairfax County’s inadequate elementary school schedule–averaged over a 5-day week, the time amounts to a paltry 6 hours and 10 minutes per day. This is the problem. What is the plan for reform?

Citizens of Fairfax, be sure to ask all the school board candidates whether they want to maintain this inadequate schedule or to make plans to give students more time in school. It is time for Fairfax County to stop dismissing elementary school students two hours early every Monday.  Ending early dismissals should be a key issue in the school board elections in November.

Calvert County improves schedules for 11 schools

Congratulations to Calvert County Public Schools for providing more time and opportunity for student learning in the 2011-2012 school year. The schools in this Maryland school district where the school day schedule will change are: Appeal, Barstow, Calvert, Dowell, Mutual, Patuxent, Plum Point, and St. Leonard elementary schools, Plum Point and Southern middle schools, and Calvert High.

The school system will be piloting a program to create additional instructional time at almost every elementary school from Plum Point Road south.  Approximately ten minutes is being added to the instructional day at most elementary schools in the pilot program.  At these schools, students will be dismissed about 10 minutes later than in previous years.

“The instructional time we are aiming to create, while it may only be 10 minutes a day, adds up to a huge increase,” said Ed Cassidy, Director of Transportation.  “Ten minutes per day is nearly one hour per week.  Over the course of a school year, we can add about 30 hours of classroom instruction.  That is equivalent to about five additional school days.”   Cassidy noted that the principals and teachers he has spoken with about the pilot program are enthusiastic about the teaching and learning possibilities that will be available. Read the rest of this entry »