SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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January 23, 2013

Presentation tomorrow on extended school day

SALEM — Should public school students spend more time in class?

Two advocates of expanded learning time will speak on the issue tomorrow night at an event organized by The Salem Partnership.

The presentation begins at 6 p.m. at Collins Middle School.

Chris Gabrieli and Jennifer Davis, co-founders of the National Center on Time and Learning, will speak on the benefits connected with having students spend more time at school.

“It’s kind of a controversial issue, and this is our one chance to have the authority (speak in Salem),” said Patricia Zaido, executive director of The Salem Partnership. “It’s important for everybody to hear the story of what the extended day means, what the options are and to express their thoughts about it.”

Mayor Kim Driscoll and Superintendent Stephen Russell will also speak tomorrow evening and give an update on the district’s second year of turnaround efforts.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to ask questions of the speakers, Zaido said. Child care and translation of discussion into Spanish will be offered.

The city’s public schools have focused on making changes and improvements after state authorities designated Bentley Elementary as a Level 4 “underperforming” school in November 2012.

Several other Salem schools were also identified as being on the brink of Level 4 status.

Adding an hour to the school day was one of the many ideas that Driscoll and Russell suggested to the Salem School Committee last year.

According to its website, the National Center on Time and Learning is “dedicated to expanding and modernizing the American school calendar to meet the needs of students in the 21st century.” The nonprofit has offices in Boston and Washington, D.C.

Davis has held numerous positions in state and federal education offices. Gabrieli is co-author of the book “Time to Learn: How a New School Schedule is Making Smarter Kids, Happier Parents, and Safer Neighborhoods.” He won the Democratic primary for Massachusetts lieutenant governor in 2002 and came in second in the Democratic primary for governor in 2006.

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