Approval anticipated for extending Middle and High School day to 2 p.m.
February 11, 2021
DAYTON–The Dayton School Board discussed options for extending the Middle and High School schedule to 2 p.m. during the February 2, 2021, work session. A vote on the matter is expected at the next regular Board meeting on February 17. With approval expected, the change would begin on February 22, according to Superintendent Guy Strot.
The biggest hurdle to extending the day for the upper grades is accommodating lunch times around the elementary students who have had a daily schedule until two in the afternoon since the beginning of the school year. Lunch is served in the multipurpose room for the entire elementary school at staggered times. Adding more students to the lunch rotation is particularly tricky because of the need for social distancing protocols.
High School Principal Kristina Brown said that the impact of high school students on the lunch schedule should not be great because most eat lunch off campus. Food Services Director Jana Eaton confirmed that historically only 30-35 high schoolers eat school lunch on average. However, the administration is considering closing the campus for lunch because of COVID, but Strot thought it is unlikely. To help with space, covered outdoor seating will be provided on a portion of the tennis courts for all secondary students. Adding supervision for the upper grades is also planned.
Two lunch schedule options are being considered. Both allow for lunches for upper grades at a later time after the elementary students are finished, but one option is only just before last period.
A major motivation to move toward a longer day on campus for the secondary school is because first semester grades were down over the past two years with many more D and F grades reported. Strot said that 34 middle schoolers had at least one F and 16 had at least one D, with no Fs. Eighteen get credit for the class if they fail and it could affect future graduation unless the credit is made up.
Moving to the new schedule allows for seven 40-minute periods instead of 60-minute periods with the current hybrid in-person and distance learning model. There is some concern students will continue to have trouble with the shortened periods.
The school is taking seriously the need to intervene with plans to utilize time during physical education class and after the 2 p.m. release time, and by offering tutoring with the Gear Up staff. Strot plans to keep abreast of students' progress who have had poor grades and make sure parents are communicated with as well as require students with poor grades to meet with teachers for support. Saturday and summer school classes are possible ways for students to make up credit. Also, working with the distance learning program APEX through Gear Up could be another option.
State testing was discussed concerning all grades too because last year there was no state testing offered due to COVID and according to Strot this year will also provide "no meaningful state testing." Strot said, "Our final score has gone down the past few years. The score for our low-income demographic is much lower than our all students score." Here again, the District acknowledges intervention is needed to get State scores up and help students who are struggling.
Dayton School Board Chair and former Elementary-Middle School Principal, Katie Leid remarked, "Eric Jensen's 2009 book, Teaching with Poverty in Mind, is considered the showcase book on the research that he had conducted. Clearly, it shows that this has been a systemic problem for the United States and the world, not just a Dayton problem," she said.
"Every school district has this problem," Leid continued. "Dayton has had professional development on just this issue over the past 15 years. The secondary school was fortunate to receive a grant...specifically on raising all student achievement for two years. Through this work, our secondary school realized a significant reduction in failing grades. My reason for reminding all of you of this is 1) Once the grant ended, so did the professional development, 2) this was a substantial grant that took no money from our district budget, and 3), since that grant, funding that comes to Dayton School District from any other source for professional development has diminished significantly."