Boston Close to Adopting Longer School Day

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Boston school officials and union leaders have announced that an additional 40 minutes will be added to the school day in the city’s elementary and middle schools.

The agreement will allow 60 schools, or about 23,000 students, to have longer school days.  In addition, teachers will get twice as much planning and development time.

Once the plan is fully implemented, it will cost the district $12.5 million per year, with teachers earning an additional $4,464 each year – about 20% lower than the average contracted hourly rate.  The agreement needs to be approved by the teachers union membership and the city school committee, writes Owen Boss for The Boston Herald.

“We know that when our students have more time to learn, they have a better chance of succeeding,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement. “I thank the Boston Teachers Union and the Boston Public Schools for their partnership in helping us reach this milestone that will strengthen our education system and help us close the achievement gap so we can give all of our young people the opportunity to succeed.”

According to Boston Teacher’s Union President Richard Stutman, the extra time will benefit under-served subjects such as art, music, drama, and foreign language.

“The School Committee has developed a strategic vision for the District that includes ensuring every student has a high-quality teacher and school leader, every day,” said Michael O’Neill, Chair of the Boston School Committee. “Lengthening the school day allows our students and teachers to spend more time together for high-quality instruction. When connected to our early hiring, teacher diversity and human capital initiatives, which include effective evaluations tied to professional development, a longer school day will become a key strategy to eliminate achievement and opportunity gaps for students throughout the District.”

Elementary students in the district currently attend school for six hours each day and middle school students have six hours and ten minutes of class time.  High school students, not included in the agreement, attend classes for six hours and 30 minutes.

The district plans to introduce the extended days over a period of three years, starting with 20 schools in the 2015-16 school year.  Almost an extra month of school time will be added through this agreement.

“With this agreement, Boston is emerging as one of the country’s leaders as it embarks on a plan to strategically redesign and expand learning time for both teachers and students,” Center officials said in a statement for The National Center on Time & Learning, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that advocates for longer school days.