There’s still 7.5 weeks of summer left, but once high school students in Martin County file back into class they will be greeted with longer school days.
Starting August 13, Martin County, Jensen Beach and South Fork high schools will tack on an extra 40 minutes to the school day.
“For teachers it’s crucial,” said South Fork HS teacher Karen Resciniti.
Resciniti is part of the committee that got this new change approved. She’s not only looking forward to the extra planning time, but teaching one less class a day.
“Many teachers had upward of 225 students and it’s just hard to give quality instruction when you’re in charge of that many kids,” said Resciniti.
Teachers will go from teaching 7 class periods a day down to 6. The change means more time to plan lessons, grade papers and schedule parent meetings.
Students will still have 7 class periods, but more time in each class. The new schedule will require kids to be in their first class by 8:20 a.m. and the last bell will ring at 3:00 p.m. However, the changes aren’t sitting well with every parent in the district.
“My main thing is how is this going to benefit the students if it's just planning time why put these kids through it and put hardship on the parents,” said one Martin County High School parent.
Some parents worry the changes will impact their work schedules, as well as running kids around to nearby elementary and middle schools.
The school district addressed these concerns and said they were thoughtful on where the time was being added; 25 minutes to the start of the day and 15 onto the back so this wouldn’t affect the current bus schedule for other schools in the district.
While not everyone is thrilled with the extra 40 minutes, Resciniti said the new change is now in line with other districts throughout Florida that average somewhere between 320 and 350 minutes of instructional time a day.
The Martin County School District issued a statement about the changes saying:
“We adopted a new bell schedule for the 2018-2019 school year, increasing to 350 minutes of instructional time per day,” says Dr. Ginger Featherstone, deputy superintendent of the Martin County School District. “This reduces teachers’ prep times they have one less class—something they had requested and is more in line with higher-performing schools such as ours. Also, last year’s hurricane brought to the forefront how little flexibility operating on 300 minutes of high school instructional time per day left us in scheduling make-up days, so there are practical benefits logistically, too. All told, we are confident this will prove a worthwhile adjustment for our teachers and our high school students.”