, Salem, MA

Local News

August 8, 2013

Longer day will be studied

Salem: Bowditch, Collins schools receive grants to explore extended schedule

Teachers at Bowditch Elementary and Collins Middle School will be studying and planning for the possibility of a longer school day in the coming months.

Bowditch and Collins were two of four Salem schools that applied for planning grants this year through the National Center on Time & Learning. Bates Elementary was not selected for a grant; Saltonstall School staff chose not to participate in the program this year.

While Saltonstall’s decision comes on the heels of the School Committee’s recent, controversial vote to end the K-8 school’s extended-year calendar, the two are not directly linked, said Stephen Russell, Salem’s superintendent of schools.

The program would have kicked off just as Saltonstall staff were moving and settling into their newly renovated building on Lafayette Street, he said.

“They just felt this would not be the right time to do this,” said Russell, who sat down with more than 30 Saltonstall teachers the week after the School Committee’s July 15 vote. “... I didn’t get any link between them saying, ‘No, thank you’ (to the grant) and the School Committee vote. There’s definitely a link between the ongoing stress resulting from the debate (over their calendar) throughout the year — I do think it’s been a tough year for the Saltonstall staff, to be quite honest ... There may have been some collateral damage, (with staff) needing some extra time to recoup and get settled again.”

Bowditch and Collins will receive one-year grants in the range of $25,000 to $35,000 to explore the idea of “expanded learning time.” The goal is to have staff at the two schools create a proposed model in the coming months and present it to the School Committee in the spring, with possible implementation in September 2014, Russell said.

Bates was not chosen for the program because of a “combination of factors,” said Russell — timing, staff, priorities, test results and other reasons.

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