The Washington Times-Herald

February 22, 2014

Reaction to extended days mixed

By Nate Smith Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — The reaction to the Washington School Board’s decision to extend school days by an hour for three weeks has been mixed.

And, judging by the opinions submitted to the Times Herald and comments on the Times Herald’s Facebook page, there are many upset with the decision.

Thursday, the board voted to extend school days from 7:40 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. in the high school, and 7:50 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. in the elementary school.

The extended days begin Monday and last until March 18. By taking this action, and using Good Friday as a school day, it will keep Washington schools’ last day of school before Memorial Day.

Reaction when the decision was announced on social media by the Times Herald raised questions. The first question included how this will affect younger children in the elementary schools. Some parents have said their children will be too tired, or too hungry.

Washington Superintendent Daniel Roach said he heard about and thought about them as well before recommending the extended days to the board.

“Most of our student population is in the building at (7:40 a.m.),” Roach said. “Instead of making that down time, we will use it in the classroom.”

He went on to say some parents have reached out to principals at the elementary schools to donate snacks to the children.

Another question was an issue with the school’s automated call system. On Thursday, Roach said a majority of responding parents, 76 percent, preferred to use extended school hours. But many who replied to our Facebook posts said they did not receive a call.

“I didn’t receive a call,” Ximenia Castillo said.

According to school records, 50 percent of those called answered the message and took the survey. Roach said the school used primary point of contact numbers only and not secondary numbers, as shown in the school’s Harmony online data system.

Another issue raised was employees, including teachers and staff, were not surveyed at all. One staff member, who asked their name not be used, said they knew about the proposed move before the board meeting on Thursday. The staffer said there never was a survey.

Teachers were surveyed in several ways, Roach said. The first was a survey by principals at school buildings and reported back to administration.

The local Classroom Teachers Association also surveyed teachers, Roach said, and teachers and staff could also participate in the telephone survey.

“It was really close, but the majority (of teachers) wanted the extended hours,” Roach said.

Roach understood there would be parents that will be upset, saying it “was a decision that would not make everyone happy.” But there are those who are supporting the decision. Cari Washburn Key said she voted for the extended days.

“Either they can make up the time now, or they add on extra days at the end,” Key said. “People will complain either way. You can’t please everyone. But, they will adapt.”

The decision echoes the North Daviess School Board, as it voted to extend school days starting Monday. Barr-Reeve Superintendent Travis Madison said Friday a decision will be made next week.

Washington Catholic released its makeup schedule on Friday. Both the elementary and high school will add extended hours starting Monday as well. Extended hours will be through March 17 and then either March 18 or April 9. The school was already in session for Good Friday.

The elementary school will be in session from 7:40 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. The high school day will begin at 7:40 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.

Washington Catholic, who shares buses with Washington schools, will follow the same policy in terms of delays.

If there is a delay for weather, school will end on normal time.

Preschool will run on the following schedule, the morning classes will meet from 8:10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. for afternoon classes each day. Cardinal Care will run its normal hours.