GRAETTINGER Even though the calendar says its still July, officials in the Graettinger-Terril Community School District are implementing a change for the upcoming school year. On the first day of classes for the 2012-2013 school year, the school day will increase in length by 25 minutes.
There are several reasons for the extension of the school day, according to Graettinger-Terril Superintendent Jesse Ulrich, starting with classroom time lost for travel between the Terril and Graettinger communities. With buses running between the two towns early each day, classes would begin at 8:20 a.m. and then dismiss at 3:05 p.m. to allow buses to run back. However, the other driving force for the change was education driven, a move that was supported solidly by the district's faculty and staff.
"Looking at our scores and looking at the needs of our kids, we really wanted to beef up our academic achievement and expand the class offerings for our kids," Ulrich explained.
Adding an additional 25 minutes to the classroom day will be beneficial at all levels in the district. Elementary students will have more classroom time, while middle and high school aged students will be adapting to a nine-period school day, and the additional time will allow for some additional course offerings in the district.
"If you take that time by 180 days of school, you get a whole week of academic instruction more than in previous years," Ulrich noted. "We're really focusing on improving our reading and specifically improving our math."
The time will also allow instructors time to interact amongst themselves.
"We are designating a period a day for our teachers to get together in professional learning communities, or PLC's, as we call them, to be able to collaborate with each one another, look at data, look at best practices for instruction, design interventions for specific students that are struggling, and then just be able have some time to collaborate on lessons together and improve instruction for our kids," Ulrich explained.
Another benefit of the extended day will be an opportunity to allow individual, one-on-one time for students and instructors.
"Students who may be struggling in math can have access to the math teacher. Students struggling in reading can have access to the reading teacher. Students in the Talented and Gifted program can have access to the TAG teacher to be able to excel their academics," Ulrich explained. "We just see by adding 25 minutes to the educational day that we can do a lot of great things for our kids here at the Graettinger-Terril Schools."