The Extended Learning Day/Time discussion began for me back in December 2012 and has been fraught with unclear communication and lots of questions.
In December 2012 DWPC liaison Mrs. Bowers made brief mention of the possibility of an extended school day but when I followed up with her in an e-mail, she thought it would be for elementary school and was a long way off. Later in the month Dr. Padalino mentioned the possibility of a mandatory 10th period at the middle schools at an Anna Devine/Robert Graves transition meeting. This possibility raised a lot of concern in parents’ minds and was brought up for discussion at the DWPC January 3, 2013 meeting.
For anyone not familiar with middle school 10th period, it is an optional period at the end of the school day that students can use to get homework help, participate in clubs and do intramural activities among other things. The regular buses take students home before 10th and the ‘late buses’ take students home who stay for 10th period. Note that with the changes made to the middle school schedule this year ’10th period’ is now called either 19th period or activity period – at least those are the terms used at Bailey Middle School.
As a result of the discussion at the January 2013 DWPC meeting, a DWPC member was assigned to gather input from parents regarding thoughts on making 10th period mandatory. Input from more than 40 parents was gathered in short order and presented at a Board of Education Coffee & Conversation on January 10 and e-mailed to all BOE members. Read parent comments/concerns in Mandatory 10th period parent feedback . Parents then planned to speak at the board of education meeting the following week. However through several different conversations parents received the impression that a decision regarding the middle school scheduling and the mandatory 10th period might be made before the BOE meeting so DWPC felt compelled to request an immediate district-wide meeting for all parents to discuss the concerns at hand. Read DWPC Middle School 10th period letter to Dr Padalino and BOE . DWPC heard back immediately from Dr. Padalino via e-mail that the mandatory 10th period had merely been mentioned as a possibility in a scheduling committee meeting and there was not a large scale movement to implement a mandatory 10th period. Upon further discussion at the February DWPC meeting, DWPC thought we had assurances that if a mandatory 10th period (or an extended school day) were to be considered, parents would be involved in the discussion.
Fast forward to the September 18, 2013 Board of Education meeting where we find that the Board of Education has as one of their goals ‘Continue to explore the development of an Extended Day Pilot Program for this school year to assist those students who need additional support’. Dr. Padalino then mentioned applying for the Extended Learning Time grant at the BOE meeting on October 16, 2013 and reported that results from the grant were delayed until January at the November 20, 2013 BOE meeting as part of the Superintendent’s Quarterly Goals update. At no point in any of these meetings did the board or Dr. Padalino make any mention of the concerns parents raised back in January regarding the possibility of extended the school day. What happened? Did the entire board simply forget the concerns submitted by parents?
In January 2014 I decided I could no longer wait for the BOE to ask about the grant and I presented questions regarding the Extended Learning Time Grant during public comment. Another parent also raised her concerns. Dr. Padalino responded that he would discuss the grant at the February DWPC meeting which ended up getting snowed out.
Parental concern over the thought of our children spending more time in school and less time with family has continued to grow and has developed into Kingston Action for Education which will be organizing a Rally Against Extended Learning Day program on Wednesday March 19, 2014 from 3:30-5pm at J.F. Kennedy Elementary School.
As a result of the Kingston Action for Education (KAFE) activity, we now have some additional information about the Extended Learning Time Grant as well. A variety of questions and answers with regards to the grant were posted on the district website today which are helpful in moving the discussion forward.