Highland approves extending school day

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL

RIVERSIDE ? The Highland School Board approving extending the school district?s day by 10 minutes at the meeting Monday evening.

Highland interim superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen said the district?s school day currently ends at 3:05 p.m. The state requires 1,080 hours for the school year. Highland will end up with about 1,097 hours, which doesn?t leave much room for flexibility.

?That?s one of the things I think we need to take into consideration,? Jorgensen said. ?The second thing is I think is our elementary in particular ? there is so much that has to be built into the day and every time that the state passes a regulation or rule something else gets squeezed.?

Ten minutes a day doesn?t sound like a lot, but after adding it up, it adds 24 hours of instruction to the year, Jorgensen added.

?That?s equivalent to four full days at six hours a day of added instruction, so it does add up to be quite a bit,? he said.

For the secondary building, it doesn?t make a huge difference, Jorgensen said. The Lone Tree Community School District, who Highland shares staff with, is discussing moving their end time to 3:15 p.m. as well, which would make their schedule the same as Highland?s.

Jorgensen recommended to the board to keep the same start time, but extend the day to 3:15 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, he said. Wednesday would stay the same because he didn?t wanted to take away time from the staff?s professional development time.

Board member Megan Allen asked Jorgensen what time the school day started. He said 8:05 a.m., but elementary school principal Jane O? Leary said it?s 8:10 there and secondary principal Angela Hazelett said it?s 8:15 a.m. in that building.

?The elementary by the time they eat breakfast it?s more like 8:25 before they?re in the classrooms ready to start learning,? O? Leary said.

?So did you guys discuss stopping at 3:30?? Allen asked. ?Like ending school at 3:30 instead of 3:15? Was that discussed??

O?Leary replied no, because the elementary teachers weren?t available to collaborate with other teachers until 3:30 p.m. and they leave for the day at 3:45 p.m., so there would be less time for this.

Jorgensen said this would create an issue with schedules for the athletic teams. There are practices that would have to start later in the afternoon and in the spring there are a lot of athletics activities students leave school early for, so this would be more time of missed school for them.

?I think 3:15 is late enough as far as dismissal time,? Jorgensen added. ?You don?t want to go any earlier in the morning, because we already have kids on the bus at seven in the morning.?

Allen said she looks at it as a parent who has to pick a kid up from practice that would be easier to do it at 5:30 p.m., than having to figure out how to get their kid from practice if they?re done earlier.

Allen said she be fine with dismissing at 3:15 or later, because she does hear teachers say a lot that they don?t have enough time in their day.

Highland transportation director George Schultz said the district is short bus drivers and having students dismiss early for athletic events eases that situation. He asked the board to consider possibly having the junior high start time later in the day to help with the short bus driver situation.

?Yeah, we are short bus drivers right now,? Jorgensen added.

Board President Nate Robinson asked Jorgensen if changing the length of the school day would start next year. Jorgensen said that was correct.

The board unanimously approved extending the school day by 10 minutes for the 2018-19 school year.