Earlier school day slated for borough in September

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Many Queens parents who thought their children would be in school later next fall, thanks to the new teachers’ contract, have been disappointed to hear that most student will actually get out of class earlier.

The extra 100 minutes in the new contract that elementary and middle school teachers must work between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. probably will not keep many students in school any longer than in the past, said Shirley Huntley, president of the school board in District 28, which covers Jamaica, Forest Hills and Richmond Hill.

Teachers will spend the added 100 minutes in professional training and by tutoring failing and struggling students, Huntley said. That means kids performing well in school will still go to class for six hours and 20 minutes as they did last school year.

Meanwhile, the school day will begin and end earlier, forcing many working parents to make arrangements to pick their children up in the middle of the afternoon, Huntley said.

Instead of starting at 8:40 a.m., the school day will begin at 8:10 a.m. for middle school students and at 8:20 a.m. for elementary school kids. Middle schoolers who do not need tutoring will get out at 2:30 p.m. instead of 2:50 p.m. Elementary school students in need of no extra help will leave at 2:40 p.m. instead of 3 p.m.

“Most parents assumed that their children would be going to school until 3:20, but now that is going to be used for professional training and tutoring,” Huntley said. “I think parents would have rather seen their kids stay in school until 3:20.”

Many parents were not aware of the details of the schedule change until school districts sent a letter home with students on the last day of this school year, said Anita Saunders, deputy superintendent of District 26, which stretches from Bayside to Little Neck, Douglaston, Auburndale, Glen Oaks and parts of Fresh Meadows and Queens Village.

“Parents have been calling with their concerns,” said Huntley, adding that many working parents were hoping that their children would be in class longer. “At this point there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s according to the contract.”

The extra 100 minutes will come in two 50-minute blocks on Tuesdays and Thursdays when teachers will stay until 3:20 p.m. at the middle schools and 3:30 p.m. in the elementary schools, Saunders said.

During the first month of the school year in District 28, teachers will devote the 100 extra minutes to attending workshops and learning new instruction techniques, Huntley said. After that, they will tutor on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help struggling students keep up with the curriculum, she added.

In District 26, teachers will spend the first two months and the last three months of the school year in professional training, Saunders said. From November to March, teachers will meet with students in small groups twice a week to assess the individual needs of children performing poorly in class.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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