Extended day debated

Rochelle Shubinsky and Maddie Essig

Next year, the school day will be extended by 15 minutes, a decision made by county officials in response to a school-wide failure to meet the required amount of county-mandated hours of instruction.
Baltimore County Public Schools faculty and staff gathered Nov. 27 to discuss implementation. Currently under consideration are three options to extend the school day: adding ten minutes to the beginning of the day and five minutes to the end, adding five minutes to the beginning of the day and ten minutes to the end, or adding 15 minutes to the end of the day.

This year, the school day was extended by five more minutes of instruction time, but teachers are not compensated for the extra 25 minutes spent working per week. With next year’s increase of over an hour per week, it is still unclear whether teachers will remain uncompensated.
Spanish teacher Maureen Burke is hesitant to start the school day earlier, mentioning that students and teachers already wake up very early to attend school.

“As a high school teacher, I absolutely do not want to start school earlier. I would prefer to have [the extension] added in the end of the day,” said Burke.

However, she might be more enthusiastic about the added instruction time if it lengthened spring break, which was cut in the 2017-2018 school year in another attempt to meet the required hours of instruction set by the county.

“If the extension allowed for our spring break back… I definitely very much want my spring break back, that’s for sure,” said Burke.

Business education teacher and golf coach Jamie Bare explained that extending the school day could be problematic for sports practices.

“Especially for golf, when the day starts getting shorter and it gets darker earlier, we’re already on a time crunch. Come October, we’re always fighting daylight to be able to play,” said Bare.

Other concerns include balancing school work and after-school activities. With the current redo policy in place, students often seek help after school, prior to athletics and clubs. The extended school day could potentially decrease the amount of available time for these opportunities before after-school activities begin.

However, Bare is optimistic that the 15 minute extension could be used to benefit students and teachers if it was turned into a free period.

“I would like to see if we could take these 15 minutes and find time to pull from other classes to turn into a half hour tutoring period,” Bare said.