School District Calendar Change Means Longer Days

By Jonathan Cooper |

Published 02/11 2014 05:38PM

Updated 02/11 2014 09:53PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)  A new year will bring changes for the St. Joseph School District. Aside from new schools, the calendar is also changing.
The changes include more snow days, removing half days and separating graduation dates between the high schools. Perhaps the biggest change, longer school days.

District leaders said the changes are based on recommendations from the community.

"It allows us to maximize our instructional time with our kids," said Jake Long, Director of Transportation and Safety for the district.

The longer school day will provide 20 additional hours of instructional time. This will also make the school year slightly shorter.

Teachers say it will allow them to do more with their students. Cassie Wittler teaches kindergarten at Colemean Elementary.

"I think the consensus among most teachers is they are really looking forward to the calendar change," Wittler said. "It's also allowing us some plan time and allows us to keep our schedule."

Other changes include increasing the number of built-in snow days to 10. This would reduce the chance of having to make them up later.

"It still allows us to increase our instructional minutes," Long said.

Half days will also be eliminated. The removal gets rid of scheduling headaches for parents that need childcare.

"Those become very burdensome on our parents," Long said. "You send your child to school and then in the middle of the day somebody has to be there to pick them up."

Wittler said it's also difficult to teach on those shortened days.

"It may seem easier to teach a half-day but it's really a lot more chaotic for us," she said. "It's a lot more chaotic for the children to disrupt their schedule."

The new calendar will also change graduation dates from weekends to week days, preventing logistical issues between the different high schools. Officials say they will evaluate the effectiveness of the new calendar throughout next year.

The longer school day will also mean schools will have to adjust their start and end times. Those times will be decided on at a later date.

The next school year will begin on August 18th, 2014 and end on May 14th, 2015.

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