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April 22, 2014

Longer year eyed for Bentley

SALEM: Tutors also a key part of elementary school plan

(Continued)

In a sample schedule shown to parents at a recent PTO meeting, the school day began at 7 a.m. with a half-hour for breakfast and a closing bell at 3:10 p.m.

The schedule includes two-hour blocks for English/social studies and math/science. Each classroom would have two certified teachers, and class sizes would remain the same as they are now. Every student would get art, music or physical education every day.

In one of the key features of the proposal, there are two times in the day set aside for “tutoring support” in math and English. The extra help is for students who are struggling and also students who are doing well and can benefit from enrichment activities. Students could work one-on-one with a teacher or in small groups, an official said.

Due to the challenges of math, special tutors called “math fellows” would be provided by Blueprint for students needing remedial help.

Blueprint has already selected a principal, Justin Vernon, who heads a public Innovation School in Boston. If Blueprint takes over, it will hire new teachers and staff. Current staff can apply, and so far eight Bentley teachers have applied and more are expected to do so.

School uniforms are also being proposed, along with schoolwide field trips or celebrations as rewards for good behavior.

The school will have a “college-focused” environment, officials said.

Involving parents in the school — one of the shortcomings cited at Bentley despite a number of efforts and initiatives — is another focus of the plan. Blueprint is proposing a “home-school compact that clearly identifies parents’ and school’s responsibilities.”

At a School Committee meeting last week, members asked a number of questions about the “memorandum of understanding” they will be asked to sign spelling out details of the legal agreement.

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