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Public Hearing Set for 2015-2016 School Calendar

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Public Hearing Set for 2015-2016 School Calendar
Posted on 03/05/2015

The public is invited to a public hearing on Tuesday, March 10, on the proposed new calendar for the 2015-2016 school year. The calendar calls for changes in the times that schools start and end each day in order to fit an additional 20 minutes of instructional time for students into each school day.

The Portland Board of Public Education public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in room 250 of Casco Bay High School located at 196 Allen Avenue. Afterwards, the School Board will hold a business meeting that will include a first-read of the calendar followed by a presentation from Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk on his proposed fiscal year 2016 school budget.

As part of a contract agreement between the district and the Portland teachers’ union that the School Board approved in December, students will get an extra 20 minutes of learning time added to each school day, starting this fall. The overall number of days that students are in school each year will decrease from the current 180 to 178 days. However, even though students are in school two fewer days, their new 6.5-hour day means they’ll actually gain 46 additional instructional hours in school over the year. That’s a 4 percent increase over the current year’s student hours.

To accommodate the additional instructional time, students at Deering, Portland and Casco Bay high schools would start their day at 8:35 a.m. and end it at 3:05 p.m. Currently, high school students begin their day at 8 a.m. and end it at 2:10 p.m.

“A later start time for high school students can help with academic success,” said Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. “Medical evidence indicates that teenagers’ sleep patterns lead them to stay up late a night, which can cause them to become sleep deprived if they must then get up early. Studies show that a delay in high school start times can boost grades and test scores.”

Start and end times at the Portland Arts and Technology High School, a regional career and technical education school, would remain the same as they are now, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 1:30 p.m. That’s because that school serves not only students from Portland but from other sending high schools in Greater Portland.

Students at Lyman Moore Middle School would see only a slight change in their start time and attend school from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Currently, Lyman Moore’s school day runs from 8:20 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Lincoln Middle School students also would attend school from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Currently, Lincoln's day runs from 8:15 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.

King Middle School, where the current school day runs from 8:15 a.m. to 2:25 p.m., would switch to a day running from 7:55 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. Because students living on islands in Casco Bay attend King, the end of its school day must mesh with island ferry schedules.

Elementary school students at East End, Longfellow, Lyseth and Presumpscot will start their day at 8:35 a.m. and end at 3:05 p.m. Currently, Longfellow, Lyseth and Presumpscot begin school at 8:55 a.m., although East End’s grant-funded early start program begins at 8:15 a.m.

Hall, Riverton, Ocean Avenue and Reiche elementary schools would start at 8:55 a.m. and end at 3:25 p.m. That’s the same start time that Hall, Ocean and Reiche have now, although Riverton’s grant-funded early start program begins at 8:15 a.m.

The Bayside Learning Community’s school day would run from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Currently, Bayside K-5 students attend school from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the school day for grade 6-12 students runs from 8:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

The schedule changes also are accompanied by a plan to have Portland Metro buses transport high school students to and from classes. The School Board at its March 3 meeting authorized Superintendent Caulk to develop a cost-sharing agreement with that bus service. The board is expected to vote on the agreement later this spring. “Working with Metro will allow us to achieve greater transportation efficiency and flexibility,” Caulk said.

The proposed calendar also calls for students in grades 1-12 to start school this year on Sept. 2. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students would start on Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 7 this year. View a draft copy of the proposed calendar here.