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Board to vote May 5 on Revised Bell Schedules for Elementary, Middle Schools

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Board to vote May 5 on Revised Bell Schedules for Elementary, Middle Schools
Posted on 04/29/2015

The Portland Board of Public Education will vote on Tuesday, May 5, on a revised schedule of elementary and middle school start and end times for the 2015-2016 school year. The vote will take place at the board’s regular meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.

New bell schedules are necessary to accommodate 20 more minutes of student learning time that will be added to each school day, beginning this fall. The board on March 31 approved new bell schedules for the city’s public high schools, middle schools and elementary schools for the 2015-2016 school year to allow for a 6.5-hour student day.

However, after parent and staff feedback and a public hearing on April 28, the board will be voting on revised bell schedules proposed for middle schools and elementary schools that are responsive to the public input the board received regarding start and end times for those schools. The board plans no further changes to the new high school times approved in March.

When it comes to the elementary schools, the start and end times depend on which school bus transportation group a school is in. Because the district has a limited number of school buses, schools must be grouped to allow for buses to make all runs necessary in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

The proposed elementary school schedule before the board is as follows:

• Elementary School Group 1 (Riverton, Ocean Avenue and Reiche) – 8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

• Elementary School Group 2 (Hall, East End, Longfellow, Lyseth and Presumpscot) – 8:40 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

Peaks Island and Cliff Island schools will maintain their current schedule for the 2015-2016 school year.

The proposed middle school schedule before the board is as follows:

• Lyman Moore and Lincoln middle schools:  7:55 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. The board already voted March 31 to have King Middle School students attend school from 7:55 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. so the proposal the board will vote on May 5 would put all the middle schools on the same schedule.

The board also will vote on a proposal to have students at the Bayside Learning Community, which serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade, also attend school from 7:55 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.

Students at Deering, Portland and Casco Bay high schools will continue to start school at 8 a.m., as they do now, but their school day will now finish at 2:30 p.m. instead of 2:10 p.m. Times for the Portland Art and Technology High School (PATHS) will remain the same as they are now, running from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

As part of the new changes, Portland METRO buses will transport most high school students to and from classes. School bus transportation will be provided for high school special education students. The METRO plan gives the school district more flexibility when it comes to transportation.

View the proposed new bell schedules here.

The longer day for students was part of a contract agreement between the school board and the Portland teachers’ union that the school board approved in December.

Starting this fall, students will attend school for 178 days per year, compared to the 180 days they’re attending this year. However, because each student day will be 20 minutes longer, students will actually gain learning time. Their new 6.5-hour day means they’ll get more than 46 additional instructional hours in school over the course of the year. That’s a 4 percent increase over the current year’s student hours.