Meadville Tribune

Local News

March 19, 2014

Crawford Central School Board set to discuss school-day hours

MEADVILLE — In response to consequences arising from changes in Crawford Central School District’s school-day hours at the beginning of the current school year, new hours for the 2014-15 school day will be on the agenda when Crawford Central School Board meets for its monthly session Monday night.

The attempt to give students an opportunity to eat breakfast at school before the class day began, for example, resulted in Meadville Area Senior High School students attending Crawford County Career & Technical Center experiencing a shortened class day, even though they spent enough time in their labs to qualify for certification.

During the board’s recent work session, Superintendent Charlie Heller introduced a schedule for students and teachers that delays the start of the school day for the district’s Meadville middle and high school students by 50 minutes and their teachers by 30 minutes while shifting the start of the elementary day forward by approximately 30 minutes for both students and teachers.

Instead of starting their day at 7:40 a.m., as they do now, students at Meadville Area Middle School and MASH will begin classes at 8:30 a.m. come September. The secondary day will end for students at 3:25 p.m. instead of the current 2:40 p.m. The hours of the secondary teacher day in Meadville will shift from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Meadville elementary school day now runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in First District, Second District, Neason Hill and West End elementary schools. The teacher day begins at 8:10 a.m. and ends at 3:40.

In September, First District and Second District students will begin their day at 8 a.m. and leave at 2:40 p.m., with teachers arriving by 7:45 a.m. and leaving at 3:15 p.m. Neason Hill and West End students and teachers start class five minutes earlier and end the day five minutes later.

In the district’s Cochranton schools, the shift will be approximately 10 minutes. Elementary classes will begin at 8 a.m. instead of the current 8:10 a.m. and students will leave for home at 2:50 instead of the current 3:05 p.m. Elementary teachers in Cochranton will begin their day at 7:50 a.m. instead of the current 8 a.m. and leave at 3:20 p.m. instead of the current 3:30 p.m.

At the secondary level, Cochranton students will start their day at 7:48 a.m. instead of the current 7:59 a.m. and will remain at school until 3:05 p.m. instead of the current 2:52 p.m., Cochranton secondary teachers will be at school from 7:40 a.m. to 3:10 p.m., arriving and leaving only five minutes earlier.

“We’ve talked a lot about this with our principals,” Heller told the board. “They’ve gone back to the faculty — and the faculty supports it.”

“I’ve received quite a few phone calls about why the schedule that had been the schedule for a number of years isn’t still functional,” board member John Amato observed.

“It never was functional,” Heller replied, noting that teachers wanted more time in the classroom and were unhappy about the disruption caused by students taking their breakfast into the classroom.

Although Vice President Jan Feleppa expressed concern about little kids getting on the bus so early, board member Jeff Deardorff said he liked the new schedule. “Elementary kids do better in the morning,” he stressed.

Board members Glenn Tuttle and Melissa Burnett said they didn’t see anything unusual about the proposed schedule.

“I feel very good about this,” Heller said. “It’s almost perfect. We’ve eliminated a lot of problems that have existed for years.”

Heller also noted that a Facebook survey of district parents indicated that opinion on the change was split almost 50-50.

District principals in attendance at the meeting voiced support for the changes.

“It does make for a long day, but this is certainly within what is going on in other school districts,” First District Principal Delta Zahnhiser said.

“It’s never perfect,” West End Elementary School Principal Tamara Clark said. “For the littlest ones, fatigue comes at the end of the day. However, teachers need more collaboration time — and this is how it works.”

MASH Principal John Higgins said that a majority of the high school teachers supported the change.

“I’m hoping this works,” Cochranton High School Principal Don Wigton said. “We’re thinking out of the box here. I’m hoping it works — a lot of it makes a lot of sense — but we don’t have any guarantees. We have to keep working on things to keep getting better.”

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mspicer@meadvilletribune.com.

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