Lengthening school day weighed to offset closings

March 03, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

The Board of Education may decide Wednesday whether to lengthen the school day for the rest of this year to make up for time lost to snow and ice in this harsher-than-usual winter.

Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said yesterday that he might recommend the move, depending on what information his staff collects on its impact on students, school employees, bus drivers and finances.

Mr. Shilling said he would need the board's approval by Wednesday to put the plan in effect. He also would need approval from state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

The superintendent said that if school days are extended, high school students, for example, could get an extra 50 minutes of instruction per day by adding six or seven minutes to each class period.

"We're going to leave it up to the option of principals, how the time would be used," Mr. Shilling said. "They don't see it as a big problem."

He said he still wants to talk to various employee groups and have school officials look into costs, such as revenue lost in food services through schools being closed.

School officials also will examine the effect on bus contracts. The schools have contracts to pay companies for 180 days of service, even if fewer days are used.

As for the quality of learning, Mr. Schilling said, several administrators think that lengthening the school day will be better than lengthening the year, because many students just don't show up for the extra days.

"They believe instructional time could be more effectively used by extending the school day," Mr. Shilling said of his administrators.

Last year, the school year was extended a week to make up snow days, and many students were absent because of previous plans for summer camps and family vacations, school officials said.

Yesterday, Carroll County schools were closed for the 12th snow day of the current year. Unless the school days are lengthened, classes would not end until June 24, a week late.

With the possibility that more bad weather today may cause schools to be closed again, Mr. Shilling said he must look at alternatives.

"That would take us into the fourth week of June, and that really concerns me," he said.

Mr. Shilling also said he would consider requesting a state waiver to avoid extending classes into the fourth week in June.

The school board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Room 271 of the Courthouse Annex.

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