Starting next year, students in the Chappaqua Central School District's three elementary schools will have instructional days that are half an hour longer.
Superintendent Lyn McKay announced the change at Wednesday's school board meeting.
“We're excited about it," McKay said. She added that the change is “long time coming” and that it's “definitely the right thing to do.”
McKay said that feedback was gathered, including at an information session held recently at Roaring Brook Elementary School, which included turnout from parents and teachers.
Currently, elementary students in Chappaqua have 6-hour instructional days; they will have 6-hour, 30-minute delays as a result. A day would run from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Overall, students will see 90 additional hours throughout the school year.
Eric Byrne, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, explained that having longer days will allow for teachers to have more time to get into their course work, noting that a lack of time currently has been a concern.
Another flaw mentioned for the current schedule is that it has a situation where "specials," which are non-core programs such as music and physical education, do not have consistent times. Support services also have the same issue, Byrne said. The schools also include what is called a contract day, where there is one day in a week of reduced class time.
Aside from adding more total time, the longer schedule will include the creation of a 30-minute intervention/extension period. Byrne said that the period can be used for a variety of purposes, including AIS support, some special education services and instrumental music. Because such programs will come out of the same period, Byrne explained that it will create consistency for students versus a rotation-based schedule for them. In addition, the intervention/extension periods will be staggered so that students in each grade can get support from a number of faculty.
The schedule will result in longer periods for core classes, some of which, in an example schedule presented, were showed to last more than an hour and a half. The sequence of classes will be run on a 6-day rotational cycle.
The change will include large increases in the amount of physicial education time, particularly for kindergarten students and first graders (24 annual hours more) and second and third graders (18 more annual hours). Meanwhile, art will see a drop off of seven annual hours for grades 1-4 and four for kindergarten. Music and library classes will see reductions of two annual hours for each grade.
The new schedule will have some drawbacks, Byrne acknowledged. They include a lower frequency of music and art (although music will be longer), fewer scheduling slots for instrumental music lessons, art teachers having to travel between multiple buildings and before-school meeting time being reduced. In the case of teachers working in multiple schools, Byrne said that they would spend one day at just one school, rather than traveling to several within a day.
The changes could also result in personnel cost savings, Byrne said, among those in music.
To view a detailed presentation on the schedule change, click here.