Superintendent’s Message: School Schedule Changes

Dr. Art Tate, Superintendent

Dr. Art Tate, Superintendent

School districts across Iowa must now have a minimum 6 hour school day, instead of the current 5.5 hours per day. However, the new law also offers additional flexibility for districts allowing them to choose to continue with the 180 student attendance days or elect a minimum requirement of 1080 hours of instructional time during the school year.

The Board will vote on a recommendation that the Davenport Community Schools adopt the 1080 hours model at the March 24 Board meeting held at 7 p.m. in the ASC Board room. This model would allow the district to “bank” hours to be used in the event of school cancellations due to weather emergencies. This option would also allow high schools to conduct parent/teacher conferences on a quarterly basis. Under the law, early out and late start days do count as student attendance days.

Along with the change to a minimum of 1080 student attendance hours per year, the Board will also be considering a change in school start times with a vote on the recommendation expected in mid-April. Earlier this year, we brought together a group to look at our current school start times to determine if they best served the needs of our students. The team reviewed current research regarding school start times and their impact on student achievement and health. The research shows that early start times, particularly for high school students, don’t match the adolescent biological clock. Adolescents should optimally get 9 hours of sleep per night. According to the National Institutes of Health, students who don’t get enough sleep have shorter attention spans and a reduced ability to learn new information. The group has proposed changes to our current school start times that could take effect with the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.

The proposed change would accomplish several important goals including equalizing the number of instructional hours for our students across the district, “banking” additional hours that can be used to offset school cancellations due to weather emergencies, and finally, allowing our high school students to move to a later school start time.

We will be hosting two public discussions from 6-7:30 p.m.on:

  • Tuesday, March 25th at the Central High School auditorium
  • Wednesday, March 26th at the West High School auditorium

The public meetings will offer students and their families an opportunity to learn more about the proposal, ask questions, and offer their feedback. We’ve placed the specific start times under the new proposal , along with a list of Frequently Asked Questions on our district website at Proposed School Schedule Changes.

Your feedback on this issue is important to us. If you’re not able to attend one of the upcoming public discussions, we hope you’ll take some time to share your thoughts via email at feedback@davenportschools.org

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Arthur W. Tate, Superintendent