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Second Public Hearing Slated for School Start/End Times

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Second Public Hearing Slated for School Start/End Times
Posted on 03/18/2015

The Portland Board of Public Education approved the 2015-2016 school calendar on Tuesday, March 17. The calendar didn’t include a plan to change school start and end times this fall in order to add 20 more minutes more of learning time each school day. Instead, the board decided it will vote on that issue separately and has scheduled a second public hearing on the plan for Tuesday, March 31, to allow for more public input.

The public hearing will take place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 250 at Casco Bay High School. Following the public hearing, the School Board will vote on the proposed schedule changes, which 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 Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk to develop a cost-sharing agreement with that bus service.

The School Board held an initial public hearing and took a first-reading vote on the schedule changes on March 10.

The new school calendar the board approved on March 17 has students in grades 1-12 starting  school on Sept. 2 this year. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will start on Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 7 this year.

The last day for students is June 15 and teachers’ last day is June 16. However, those final days may be subject to change, depending on how many days schools must close in the new school year because of inclement weather. The calendar doesn’t include any storm days.

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.

The increase in time was part of a contract agreement between the district and the Portland teachers’ union that the School Board approved in December. To accommodate the additional instructional time, changes in school start and end times are proposed.

The plan being considered calls for students at Deering, Portland and Casco Bay high schools to 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 would 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.

Members of the public who are unable to attend the March 31 public hearing are invited to email their School Board representatives with their comments prior to the event. Contact information for board members is listed under the “Board of Education” tab on the district’s website, www.portlandschools.org.

To read an overview of the METRO plan, click here. For a memo on the transportation schedule from Deputy Chief Operations Officer Craig Worth, click here.

Also at its Tuesday, March 31 meeting, the School Board is scheduled to vote to recommend the FY2016 school budget to the City Council.