17 Palm Beach County schools get longer day

The school day is about to get an hour longer for students in 17 Palm Beach County elementary schools.

Sixteen of the schools, which include Galaxy Elementary in Boynton Beach and a number of schools in Riviera Beach and the Glades, made a list of the 100 lowest performing schools in the state based on reading scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

The longer day is part of a number of strategies the state is requiring the district to take to help improve performance at struggling schools, according to a plan presented Wednesday at the School Board.

The district is seeking to engage parents and provide intense professional development for the 800 teachers at the schools, who will get paid for the extra hour of work. The district is also trying some new reading strategies for these students.

"We don't want to give them the same reading instruction, only more of it," Assistant Superintendent Janis Andrews said. "We need to be teaching differently."

Andrews and Superintendent Wayne Gent said they didn't have the exact cost of the program, although Chief Operating Officer Mike Burke told the Palm Beach Post the estimated cost is $7 to $8 million. He said the district expected the number of failing schools to be 10 or fewer, so the district is having to scramble to find money to pay for the plan.

The district has also created a plan to improve performance at any school that that received a C, D or F.

C-rated schools are being labeled "prevent schools," and teachers will get professional development, and the district will monitor progress. These schools include four schools in Boynton Beach -- Congress Middle, Forest Park Elementary and Poinciana Elementary and Boynton Beach High -- and two Delray Beach schools, Village Academy and Carver Middle.

D-rated schools, or "focus schools," will get even more intense involvement from the district. These include Pine Grove Elementary in Delray Beach and Galaxy.

F-rated schools, or "priority schools," will get the most intense scrutiny.

While the district had no F schools this year, five rated low enough to receive that grade, but were spared this year by a one-time quirk in the grading scale that gave schools extra points so that they wouldn't fall more than one letter grade.

These schools are Lincoln Elementary in Riviera Beach and three Glades area schools: Glade View Elementary, Pioneer Park Elementary, Lake Shore Middle and Pahokee Middle-Senior High. The three elementary schools are also part of the extended day program.

"We want to maker sure we support them, so when they don't get they don't get the extra points, they won't be in danger," said Andrews said.

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