Pr. George’s looks to add class time for middle schools

Max Smith,

WASHINGTON – Prince George’s County middle school students on spring break may want to savor the time off, because come this fall, there are plans to lengthen their school day.

Schools spokesman Briant Coleman tells WTOP that there are tentative plans to extend the school day at middle schools from six hours and 40 minutes to seven hours and 20 minutes, but it’s not a sure thing yet.

“This is one of several proposals that we are exploring in an effort to continue our progress. However, the details have not been finalized,” Coleman says.

Prince George’s County Public Schools Chief Academic Officer A. Duane Arbogast tells the Gazette it will be up to principals to figure out how best to use the time — whether as an extra period to help struggling students and challenge others, or as time added to existing classes to enhance learning.

The head of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association tells the paper the plan would not extend teachers’ work hours, and the county has many middle schools that need improvement.

“It matters how much time children spend in front of a teacher,” Kenneth Haines tells the Gazette.

The additional time in the school day would result in changes to how early kids have to wake up in the morning and to when they get home.

But new schedules also could allow the school system to use fewer buses, saving money. Superintendent William Hite requested about $4 million less in next school year’s budget for student transportation services than the system spent this year.

Arbogast says the plan will only impact middle schools this fall — not kindergarten through eighth-grade schools — but it is a possibility that extended school days could come to elementary schools in the future.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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