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Proposal to extend elementary school day turned down by the Hamburg School Board

Overall sentiment among district officials seems to indicate a general interest in further exploring the option of extending the school day in Hamburg elementary schools to the typical lengths of surrounding districts’ days. However, a particular resolution regarding such information being referred for input to related organizations from the district- an item brought to the Hamburg Central School Board Tuesday following a budget workshop- was met with conditional hesitation that resulted in the resolution being voted down by a 4-2 margin by board members.

It was stated that Board Member Sally Stephenson brought the resolution to the board, as Stephenson described the item as an issue that has been bantered about for a considerable length of time. Resolution wording includes extending the educational time in an elementary school day in Hamburg by 40 minutes per day, which would amount to approximately three hours and 20 minutes per week in additional teacher/student contact time. Such additions would amount to about 20 days per year in gained educational time.

Current elementary school day parameters are listed at a start time of 8:40 a.m. and dismissal at 2:25 p.m. for students. However, teachers’ school days are contractually noted as ending at 3:20 p.m., with a listed 37-week teaching schedule for the year, incorporating vacation, holidays and exams. Resolution description calls HCSD elementary schools- including Armor, Boston Valley, Charlotte Avenue and Union Pleasant- having typically the shortest school days in the local area.

In summation, the resolution would steer the board toward referring related material to the district’s transportation committee, Fisher Bus Services and the Hamburg Teachers Association for input and recommendations.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Stephenson said in regards to the possibility of extending the elementary school day, noting that the item entails a scheduling change. “(The resolution) is not saying we’re going to (implement such changes). It is asking for information from the HTA, Fisher Bus and (the transportation committee)…It costs no money to look at (researching information related to extending the school day).”

Stephenson and Board Member Diane Reynolds voted in favor of the resolution, while Board President Dr. Joan G. Calkins- as well as board Vice President Thomas Flynn III and board members Matthew Dils and Patricia Brunner-Collins- voted against the item. Calkins agreed with Stephenson that an extension of the typical elementary school day for learning purposes is a good idea. However, the board president noted the scheduling and transportation issues that feasibly exist, recommending that a further meeting should be scheduled to address the matter. Flynn said it was to his knowledge that a related efficiency study was already being conducted with transportation services, adding that a multi-layered problem can exist regarding uniformity of school day start and end time between the elementary schools and the middle/high schools. The board vice president also stated that the overall matter may not be an item that is necessary to be brought as a board resolution.

Dils described the concept of extending the school day as “a great idea,” but added that it was not the board’s discretion to direct the HTA and other organizations to investigate such aforementioned material of school day extension.

“It’s not what we do,” said Dils, who stated additionally that HTA President John Mrozek handles negotiations and related matters with district teachers. Dils also said that several activities, such as chorus and other extra-curriculars, take place on a daily basis for students to participate in, if they so choose.

Brunner-Collins agreed that the matter probably did not need to be decided upon via Tuesday’s resolution format.
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