The Greater Clark County School Board has voted to extend the school day, but the district must develop a plan to support teachers who will likely be asked to spend more time monitoring the safety of children after school.
Beginning this fall, the bell will ring 10 minutes later in order to add time for a student intervention and enrichment program introduced by Superintendent Andrew Melin last year. This means some teachers will be ending their day—and the number of hours they’re contracted to work—at the same time as students.
“The teachers want the kids to be safe,” says Frank Denton, president of the Greater Clark Education Association, “but they want to make sure we stay within our boundaries also with time, because it’s taking more and more time to do everything we do.”
GCCS already made adjustments to the school schedule at the beginning of 2013 to support the IMPACT program—which places students into certain tiers and provides them with additional instruction depending on their needs. Individual classes were cut by one minute and passing periods (the time students have to move between classes) were reduced from five minutes to three.
Denton says he met with teacher leaders this week after hearing about the changes and says the next step is to work together to develop a plan to address student safety and teacher schedules.
One idea mentioned by Melin included teacher stipends, but those details have not yet been worked out.
“We didn’t have any details on that. We didn’t have any details about how many teachers that would be, what their positions and duties would be, how long their day would be extended,” says union treasurer John McLaughlin, who also serves as chair of the union’s discussion team. “We also had a concern about with limited funds available for schools these days how that would work out.”
Extending the student schedule will not save the district money, GCCS officials say, and couldn’t say whether it would cost the district.
McLaughlin says the number one concern is the safety of the students and says the union is not in opposition to the board’s decision to extend the school day. Further, he says district leaders and the union have been able to negotiate and discuss issues in the past to make tough decisions.
Both sides are expected to meet over the next week.