District Current Events:
The fundamental structure of our country’s agrarian-based educational calendar and time schedule has not changed significantly in the last two hundred years. However, what we know about the science of teaching and learning has certainly changed remarkably over the same time period, particularly in the last twenty years. Consequently, as a school district, we believe that we have a responsibility to consistently evaluate any research-based models that are not part of our current practice but have the potential to improve the overall learning environment for staff and students.
Recently we have been evaluating two innovations that we feel have merit. One is a new hybrid school calendar. Basically, this model will allow students and faculty to focus more rigorously on a nine week academic session, then take a two week break to rest and recharge for the next nine week session. Students will still attend school for the 178 state-mandated days; however, the days will stretch from near the end of July until early June in a model that we feel has significant potential to improve learning outcomes.
Our second proposed innovation involves school start times. While our start/end times would remain the same for K-6th grade students, we are proposing to delay the start time for 7th-12th grade students by one hour, with a new start/end schedule of 9:00 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Research indicates that later start times can greatly benefit the learning process of teens.
Moreover, this proposed time modification can help address some transportation scenarios that continue to be less than ideal for a significant number of our students. Presently, we have about 300-350 secondary school students who may be required to board our bus as early as 6:15 a.m. to be delivered to school by 7:00 each morning, so that the bus can then start the second leg of a double route. Also about the same number (300-350) of secondary students may be required to wait for a bus 45 minutes to 1 hour each day after school and then may face as much as a 45-minute bus ride home.
Two possible remedies for this regrettable transportation situation have been identified. One is the purchase of 18 additional buses with an estimated cost in excess of $2 million, plus the expense and very difficult task of identifying and sustaining the employment of 18 additional bus drivers.
A second solution is simply to stagger our start times with 7th-12th grade students arriving at 9 a.m., a strategy that, as stated, also provides significant benefits to the learning process for teens. Another option being examined is for our 10th-12th grade students to arrive at 9 .m.
In order to facilitate conversations surrounding the proposed innovations, we held an informational meeting where representatives from numerous stakeholder groups (which included members of the Marion School Board, all district and building-level administrators, members of the certified personnel policy committee, members of the classified personnel policy committee, as well as student and parent representatives) were in attendance. Also, any faculty and staff that are not a member of any of the groups listed above were welcome and encouraged to attend.
For informational purposes, we have included on the left side of the page links to several publications from a variety of respected sources that speak to the science behind the rationale for these proposed modifications.