State College Area School District officials held a community information session on Monday to further explain the extended school day proposal.
Vernon bock, assistant superintendent for elementary education, Will Stout, assistant superintendent for secondary education, and Randy Brown, finance and operations officer, presented the crowd of just more than 40 people with an overview of the proposal, which adds 44 minutes to the school day.
The elementary school start time would move from 8:44 a.m. back to 8:10 a.m. and the day would end at 3 p.m. instead of 2:50 p.m.
Under the proposal, elementary school students would gain 24 minutes of core instructional time and a fifth special subject.
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Students currently receive 40 minutes per day of instruction in the four special subjects: art, library, physical education and music. The proposal changes the special subject period length to 50 minutes and adds a world language and culture course, but Bock said the fifth special isn’t finalized.
“We’re open to engaging the community on what the fifth special could end up being,” Bock said. “We’ve explored the world language course, but we would like input from the community before a final decision is made.”
Middle and high school students would start at 8:40 a.m. instead of 8:10 a.m. and their day would end at 3:42 p.m. and 3:40 p.m., instead of 3:12 p.m. and 3:16 p.m., respectively.
Stout said one of the main issues parents have expressed is the how the change affects athletes. The day is ending about 30 minutes later, which he said creates an issue with lost instructional time.
To address the concerns, the district conducted a survey of Mid-Penn Athletic Conference athletic directors to gauge their interest in scheduling more Saturday contests, doubleheaders and later start times for weekday games. The majority of the athletic directors said they would be willing to explore the options, according to Stout.
“We hear the concerns loud and clearly about the extracurriculars and the missed class time,” Stout said. “It’s something we’re really taking a look at to have some options so that the students are missing the least amount of class time as possible.”
Brown took the opportunity to explain the budget implications of the proposal. If the plan is implemented, it would cost the district about $1.5 million annually, according to Brown.
The largest expense would come from the additional eight to ten staff members needed to implement the world language and culture course in the elementary schools. The district would spend about $1 million dollars annually on the increased staff, according to Brown.
Transportation accounts for the remaining budget impact. In the spring, the district contracted Tyler Technologies, of Latham, N.Y., to conduct a transportation study to assess any changes that would need to be made if the proposal is passed by the school board.
“We estimate that realistically it’s between $250,000 and $500,000,” Brown said. “But there is a caveat and that is the charter and non-public school start times.”
The district is responsible for transporting more than 600 charter and non-public school students. The start and end times of the schools are similar to SCASD start times, but if those schools do not agree to change their times, the district could need to buy or contract additional buses, according to Brown.
The district is meeting with each school and Brown said he expects their input by Oct. 9, which is when the school board is tentatively scheduled to vote on the proposal.
The district will hold another forum at Mount Nittany Middle School on Sept. 27. The event starts at 7 p.m.