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Board Gives Preliminary Approval to School Calendar

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Board Gives Preliminary Approval to School Calendar
Posted on 03/11/2015

The Portland Board of Public Education held a public hearing on the proposed 2015-2016 school calendar on March 10, and gave it first-reading approval. 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 schedule changes also are accompanied by a plan to have Portland METRO buses transport high school students to and from classes. The School Board on March 3 authorized Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk to develop a cost-sharing agreement with that bus service. The board is expected to vote on the agreement later this spring.

Six parents and community members spoke at the public hearing but School Board Chair Sarah Thompson said others have emailed board members, many praising the proposed changes, but some asking questions and expressing some concerns. Thompson said the board was committed to addressing concerns and answering questions.

METRO General Manager Gregory Jordan at the meeting provided an overview of the proposed transit pass program for high school students. A question and answer sheet on the proposed METRO program can be found here.

The proposed new calendar calls for changing school start and ending times because – 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., but a later start time for high school students can help with academic success, studies indicate.

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.

For a memo on the transportation schedule from Deputy Chief Operations Officer Craig Worth, click here.

The board is expected to take a final vote on the calendar at its Tuesday, March 17 meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at Lyman Moore Middle School.