Boston Schools To Extend School Day

By: Patricia Hawke

In the fall of 2005, the Boston schools began exploring the education reform strategy of extending the school day for its middle schools. The extended school day gives students more time for learning at a crucial time in their education. The middle school years provide the much-needed preparation for students to enter high school, college and the workforce. Last year, the Boston schools applied for and was awarded a $40,000 planning grant for three schools.

The Boston schools have been awarded grants again this year for another three schools. These three Boston schools were among ten schools across the state that included five school districts. The other four districts are Cambridge, Fall River, Malden, and Worcester, who shared with the Boston schools a total of more than $2.2 million in implementation grants to extend the learning time at the ten schools.

The three Boston schools are:

• Clarence R. Edwards Middle School in Charlestown;
• Umana/Barnes Middle School in East Boston; and
• James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury.

Beginning in September 2006, Edwards and Timilty middle schools will begin class at 7:20 a.m., Monday through Friday. They will end school at 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and at 11:40 a.m. on Friday. Umana/Barnes will begin classes at 7:35 a.m., Monday through Friday; end school at 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; and end at 11:40 a.m. on Friday.

As with the schools last year, the Boston schools enlisted the assistance of Boston schools administrators, union representatives, teachers, counselors, principals, parents, and community partners. They worked together to develop the plans and implementation of the extended day at each school. Additionally, the non-profit organization, Massachusetts 2020, gave support to the planning and implementation process. The 2020 group is dedicated to expanding educational and economic opportunities for children and their families within the state of Massachusetts.

The Boston schools’ interim superintendent, Michael Contompasis, noted that both the students and the teachers benefit from this extra school time. Students receive more classroom instruction time in the core academic subjects that are crucial for their success in high school and college. More time also will be available to students for tutoring, the arts, and recreation. Additionally, teachers are given more time for lesson planning, setting schedules, and for professional development activities.

The Massachusetts Department of Education provides the grants from its “Expanded Learning Time to Support Student Success" grant program.

The Boston schools have more than 58,000 pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students at 145 schools. The hopes of all concerned is to continue to expand this reform strategy of extended school time; so that student achievement will continue to rise, with students being better prepared for high school, college and the workforce.

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