Boston Teachers Union Approves Extended School Day

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The Boston Teachers Union has agreed to extend the school day by 40 minutes each day for all elementary and middle schools who do not already have extended day programs in place.

About two-thirds of the schools in the Boston Public Schools district will be affected by the change, or around 60 schools and 23,000 students.

Approximately 800 union members came to the meeting earlier this week to vote on the issue, which was “voted roughly 4-to-1 in favor of [the proposal].”

“It passed overwhelmingly,” said said Richard Stutman, the president of the teacher’s union.  “The most significant reason why people voted ‘No’ was concern over how late the last schools would be getting out at the end of the school day. Right now they get out at 3:30 and they will now be getting out at 4:30.”

The vote comes a few weeks after Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston Public Schools, and Boston Teachers Union met to negotiate the proposal, writes Eric Levenson for Boston.com.

In the State of the City Address last week, Walsh had positive thoughts concerning the proposal.

“The partnership between the Boston Teachers Union and the Boston Public Schools has been integral to helping us reach this milestone,” he said in a statement. “Anything is possible after tonight’s vote. Our education system will be stronger than ever before, as we take one step closer to bridging the achievement gap.”

The extension is expected to cost around $12.5 million each year, including an additional $4,464 each year per teacher for the extra time commitment.  However, because around one-third of elementary and middle schools already run on an extended day program, teachers at those schools will not receive the additional pay that is written into the agreement.

Critics of the topic raised issues concerning the logistics of adding the extra time to each school day, writes Delores Handy for WBUR.

In addition, a study from The Boston Globe found that after adding time to the end of the school day, some schools did in fact see a rise in test scores.  However, others did not, with many others finding it hard to maintain the gains made over time.  As a result, a few schools have decided to toss the program, going back to their original school day hours, writes Elisabeth Harrison for RINPR.

Stutman went on to say that the extra time will be phased in over the next three years, starting with 20 schools this fall.  A “school-by-school decision” will be made on how best to include the extra 40 minutes each day, depending on what each district believes it needs.  Once the extra time has been added, teachers will meet on a weekly basis to decide on curriculum for the extended portion of the day, reports Richard Weir for The Boston Herald.

“It’s a modest amount of time that will be put to good use,” Stutman said. “I think some schools will go more heavy on the academic subjects, others may go more for the arts … some may concentrate on reading or the language arts. It will be all over the place, but there is a mechanism to figure it out.”

The final vote by the school committee on the issue will come on January 28.