, Gloucester, MA


September 5, 2013

My View: Supt. Safier stands by class times

Recently, questions have been raised about time on learning in our elementary schools.

These questions are actually part of a larger criticism of a pilot Universal Breakfast program that is being implemented at Beeman and Veterans. This will be discussed below.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is clear on its expectations for time on learning. Schools are to have 900 hours dedicated for that purpose.

The school day is 6 hours, or 360 minutes, long. Of that day, 45 minutes are scheduled for lunch and recess, inclusive of student travel time.

Contrary to recent public statements, elementary schools do not have homeroom as high schools do. Students typically begin their day with independent work and/or social learning activities while attendance is taken.

Years ago, our schools had a 15-minute morning snack and recess during the school day. Our schools no longer have this recess, and schoolwork is done during snack time except in kindergarten, which is not subject to the 900-hour requirement.

Recent statements also claim 15 minutes of transition time, yet students do not regularly pass between classrooms as they do in high school, and many specialist classes (art and music) are conducted in the classroom, so students do not move. Students may leave the classroom 2-3 times per week for physical education, which in our schools constitutes a one-minute walk.

An actual account of time on learning in our elementary schools is as follows:

Out of a 6-hour day, there are 5.25 hours for time on learning when we subtract lunch, recess, and travel to and from class;

Over 180 days, this would total 945 hours;

Remove 2.25 hours time for 11 release days (the June 3 Early Release was optional; that will now be a full day of school). That brings the total to 920.25 hours;

From the 920.25, we can assume 4 minutes per day of transition for daily specialists totaling 12 hours; this brings the total to 908.25 hours;

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