School days will be longer

Published on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 by Meg Olson

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With a new legislative mandate to increase instructional hours, the Blaine school district may need to look at reducing some programs to pay for it.

At the March 24 meeting of district commissioners in Point Roberts, superintendent Ron Spanjer explained that for the 2014/2015 school year the district would be increasing the instructional time for students in kindergarten through fifth grade by going to a common bell time. School will start at 8:20 a.m. for all students next year, whereas this year primary and elementary students start an hour later.

“We’ve been averaging 1,000 hours per school year but the hours are higher at the secondary level,” Spanjer said. “We need to bring up the primary and elementary hours.”

Commissioners adopted a resolution establishing a 180-day school year for 2014/2015, with 1,080 instructional hours per student, directing Spanjer to come up with a plan for identifying programs and positions that may need to be cut to pay for the additional costs. 

Another consideration will be how to continue to meet the state training standards with fewer planning days for teachers under the increased instructional hours.

“There will be costs associated with getting everyone on a common bell schedule for a 180-day school year,” Spanjer said. “We need to consider whether or not we need to reduce programs in order to meet budget.”

Commissioners will hold a work session at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 21 to discuss the plan, and they could take action at their Monday, April 28 regular meeting.