The State College Area school board was presented at its meeting on Monday with a revised version of the extended school day proposal.
Superintendent Bob O’Donnell and Assistant Superintendent Vernon Bock outlined the proposal, which adds 44 minutes to the elementary school day, requiring students to start earlier, and shifts the secondary and high school hours by about 30 minutes. The changes would be implemented for the 2018-2019 school year.
The proposal was created in collaboration with teachers, staff members, parents and community members to align with the district’s strategic goals to engage and support the whole student, foster continuous growth for every child and close individual achievement and opportunity gaps, according to a district release.
To explain the proposal further, the district has cited recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics based on sleep research that suggests later start times and increased sleep times for adolescents can improve physical and mental health, academic performance and quality of life.
The district’s proposal does not address the affects, if any, of shortening elementary school student’s sleep periods as a result of the change.
Under the revised proposal, the elementary start time moves from 8:44 a.m. back to 8:10 a.m. and the day would end at 3 p.m. instead of 2:50 p.m. Middle and high school students would start at 8:40 a.m. instead of 8:10 a.m. and their day would end at 3:42 p.m. and 3:40 p.m. instead of 3:12 p.m. and 3:16 p.m. respectively.
In April, Bock presented the board with the initial version of the proposal. The most significant change to the revision is the elementary start time, which was changed from 8 a.m. to 8:10 a.m.
Following the April meeting, the district contracted Tyler Technologies, of Latham, N.Y., to conduct a transportation study to assess any changes that would need to be made if the proposal is passed by the board.
Using the study results, the revised proposal estimates that transportation expenses could increase up to $250,000 and $550,000 for transporting SCASD children.
However, the most recent information from the district says that could be less.
“Based upon our analysis thus far, we believe the cost will fall below this original estimate, potentially as low as $250,000,” the district release said.
The district is responsible for busing charter and non-public school children, but the revised proposal transportation estimate does not factor in those costs.
Merle Winn, a Tyler consultant, conducted the study and told the Centre Daily Times in June that under the plan, the district would need more than 10 additional buses to address the transportation needs of the charter and non-public school children, which he said could cost almost $1 million.
Under the proposal a world language course is added to the special area courses, which include art, music, library, health and physical education. The addition of the special course requires the district to add eight to 10 teaching positions, which could cost about $1 million annually, according to the district.
The district will hold public information sessions on Sept. 19 at Park Forest Middle School and Sept. 27 at Mount Nittany Middle School. The events start at 7 p.m.
The board is expected to vote on the proposal on Oct. 9.