Longer School Day for Albemarle County?

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

Albemarle County School Board Superintendent Kevin Castner presented his budget to the public. In it was one issue that drew much criticism from parents.

"People are getting up as early as they possibly can already," stated Stephen Nachmanovitch, parent of two Albemarle County Students. "You have to peel your children out of bed before dawn."

Now the county wants a longer school day, with an ealier rising time.

You'd expect kids to be kicking up a fuss but at the February 9th School Board public hearing, it was the parents who gave the superintendent's proposal a piece of their mind.

The contentious proposal adds twenty minutes to the school day, tacking fifteen to the morning and five to the afternoon. Some parents disagree with the organization of this decision.

"Parents favor adding on time to the school day, 15 or 20 minutes," stated Chip Deale, parent and also Cale Elementary PTO President. "However they are unanimously opposed to adding the time to the front end of the school day. They would rather have those minutes added to the end of the school day," he suggested.

The county added more time in the morning in order to not add more bus routes. But by adding time, elementary schools would start at 7:40 a.m., forcing kids to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

Nachmanovitch said this cuts into family time and eliminates extracurriculars. "Both parents work, as in this case, both households work, so mom and dad come home after 6 p.m.. Then you have dinner. Then you have homework. If you have multiple children, you have multiple homeworks, and you can barely get your kids in bed by 10 o'clock."

The county argues that this extra class time is needed for a conversational Spanish program and core curriculum. As it stands, the county has one of the shortest school days in the state. Parents say they have no problem extending classroom time, they just think there's a better way to do it.

"It's a great idea in general, but how they intend to go about it is poorly thought out and we urge them to go back to the drawing board," said Nachmanovitch.

The current proposal would go into effect this fall. Next Tuesday, February 15th, the School Board will meet for a work session and discuss the parents' comments.

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