Kids will get a longer school day starting this fall, even as Wellington eliminates late starts on Wednesdays.
The board of education approved the changes at its regular monthly meeting June 29, putting Westwood Elementary’s class hours at 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., McCormick Middle School at 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Wellington High School at 7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m.
That amounts to a 20-minute addition for both WHS and Westwood and 10 more minutes per day for McCormick students.
“Twenty minutes over 180 school days equals 60 hours,” said district superintendent Ed Weber. “Then you add on the elimination of late start Wednesdays and that’s about another 40 hours per building each year. All in all, that’s about another three weeks of school per year. One minute equals three hours.”
Hour-long delayed starts on Wednesdays had been used for professional development, presentations, and implementing the Ohio Improvement Process, a statewide support system meant to accelerate learning and close achievement gaps.
Weber said Wellington was the only school district in Lorain County using a delayed start for OIP purposes.
At the meeting, Westwood teacher Ann Petersen estimated it would cost about $86,400 per year to hold the same meetings after school.
“These meetings can be held during the day,” said Weber. “Teachers have meetings during the day all the time. Why can’t one of the meetings be for the Ohio Improvement Process? Why does it have to be before or after school? I would say if we did every meeting after school and if all teachers attend, her numbers are probably correct. But if we can embed it into the school day for all or most of the teachers, that cost will come down.”
He estimated costs closer to $50,000 or less and said he’ll leave it up to teachers and administrators at each school to decide when meetings are held.
“We’re already paying some of these costs for things teachers do after school,” he added. “Instead of a type of computer training it will go toward OIP. It’s not really a new cost to the district when you look at it that way.”
School board president Sally Stewart said she has heard regular complaints from parents regarding the delayed start and problems it causes with transportation schedules.
“I haven’t heard any personally but I’ve heard stories from others,” said Weber. “I’ve heard the late start keeps getting changed. One year it will only apply to one school and others years it would apply to all. Sometimes the schools were cancelling them. I haven’t taken any direct complaints but I’ve heard all sorts of things.”
The goal of the extended hours is increased student performance, Weber said. On its 2016 Ohio Report Card, the district received an overall D grade and F’s for progress, elementary reading, and gap closing.
“Our main business is putting teachers and kids together,” he said. “This is all about maximizing the instructional time made available to us in our union agreement. The students’ day is being extended to more closely match the teachers’ day.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.