Beginning in July with the start of the 2010-11 school year, OUESD students will log on average an extra 20 to 25 minutes per day in the classroom – approximately 1,200 additional instructional minutes per year.
“We’ve had discussions about this for the last two or three years, but I think it got set on the back burner primarily because of budgets,” said Anne Allen, OUESD assistant superintendent of Student Services. “But the current contract for the fourth and fifth grade early release time was set to expire on June 30, so it seemed like a good time to bring the idea back to the forefront.”
According to the plan, students at the district’s five elementary and two middle schools will see longer classroom hours four days a week, and early release times on Wednesdays.
Delta Vista and O’Hara Park middle school classes will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 2:46 p.m. Their minimum days (Wednesday) will let out at 12:30 p.m.
Schedules for the elementary schools, which include Laurel, Gehringer, Iron House, Oakley and Vintage, will vary because of transportation factors. Start times will range from 8:05 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. Release times will also differ depending on the grade.
The extended school day will give teachers the opportunity to schedule collaborative time to assess student performance and needs, as well as provide students with additional instructional and one-on-one time.
Allen believes the adjusted schedule will offer something for everyone. “One of the obvious concerns is that there are not enough minutes in the regular day to get everything done,” she said. “The demands that are being placed on educators are such that certain things have to be done. We think this makes the most sense.”
And despite the fact that the district is already thousands of minutes over the regulated state standards, teachers in the Oakley district voluntarily came up with the longer school day as a way to meet the needs of their students, even though they will not be financially compensated for it.
“The Oakley teachers have yet again stepped up to the plate and are doing what’s best for the students,” said OUESD Superintendent Rick Rogers. “They are already taking furlough days and they are already not getting raises, and yet again they did this knowing that it is something that will help students.”
“It’s true,” said Allen. “There’s no compensation for this. It’s not an easy time for anybody, but we have an amazing group of educators that are doing this because the bottom line is that it is going to be great for the kids. We’re really excited about this and very grateful to our staff.”