BREAKING NEWS: Indian River school day extended 30 minutes, starting Monday
School days are about to get longer in the Indian River School District.
Beginning Monday, March 17, the district will extend the school day by 30 minutes at all schools. The day will be extended each afternoon to make up for seven weather-related closures this winter. School will begin at the regular time each morning.
Officials said they wanted to avoid tacking extra days onto the end of the school year, June 11.
“It’s summertime. School’s supposed to be out,” said Board President Charles Bireley. “Kids in middle school and high school work.”
Bireley was part of an administrative decision to begin the extended school days immediately.
“We needed to do something now, because the [school board] meeting’s at the end of the month. If we didn’t do anything now, we would have to add more.”
Moreover, officials noted, standardized testing is quickly approaching.
“They haven’t moved the AP testing. They haven’t moved the testing at the end of the year. Teachers’ livelihoods … depend on the test. Those days don’t move. So we need the extra classroom time right now,” said Board Member Doug Hudson.
“The state test is so important for some people. The teachers have missed seven days of instruction to prepare for that,” Bireley added.
IRSD students have missed 42.14 instructional hours due to the weather-related closures, but an extra 30 minutes each day only makes up 27.5 hours, or about four days.
“There’s a chance a few of those have been forgiven,” IRSD spokesman Dave Maull said.
Sussex County school districts asked “forgiveness” for three days on which the governor declared a State of Emergency, on Jan. 3, Jan. 22 and March 3, according to a letter from Superintendent Susan Bunting, signed by seven other Sussex superintendents.
The State Board of Education is scheduled to discuss the request at its March 20 meeting.
Delaware law requires 1,060 hours of instruction each school year, but IRSD pads the calendar with 1,100, Maull said.
Parents received automated phone calls from the district in English and Spanish on Thursday, March 13, explaining the extended school day, and another round of calls was to go out Sunday, March 16.
In addition to the longer days, the end of the third marking period is being moved from March 31 to April 2. The distribution of report cards will remain on April 9.
“We had to do something,” Bireley said. “It was more prudent to do it now than wait ’til the end of the year.”
Look for continuing coverage in the March 21 edition of Coastal Point.