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DPS changes school start times again, adds more classroom time

Dayton Public Schools will adjust school start times for the second year in a row this fall, adding 15 minutes of classroom time as the district attempts to improve academic performance.

All 27 DPS schools will see at least some change in their schedule — some starting 15 minutes earlier or ending 15 minutes later. Only two schools will face major changes — Louise Troy PreK-6 School will switch from a 9:25 a.m. start to a 7:10 a.m. start. And Stivers School for the Arts will start an hour later, with the school day going from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., rather than 8 to 2:45.

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Since taking over in November, Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli has tried to focus on improving classroom curriculum and instruction to raise student performance. But where many schools, including Dayton, have boosted math and language arts time in recent years, that’s not the primary focus of this change.

“The extra 15 minutes allows for more instructional time,” Lolli said. “So for example, we will be able to add 15 minutes to our social studies/science time in the (elementary) grades. Currently they barely get 20 minutes for these subjects, so this will really help.”

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Lolli said in older grade levels, the change will just allow for slightly longer classroom academic periods. Every DPS school is now listed with a seven-hour school day. That’s fairly common among local high schools, but somewhat longer than average among elementary schools.

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But DPS’ elementary and middle schools’ start times are actually the beginning of a “grab-and-go breakfast” period to start the day. DPS spokeswoman Marsha Bonhart said students will be able to grab fresh fruit or fruit juice, granola bar or graham crackers, plus yogurt and milk.

District officials did not answer whether those younger students need to arrive by the start of the breakfast period to avoid a tardiness penalty, or whether they have 15 extra minutes.

Teachers union officials said while the “student day” increases by 15 minutes, the 7-hour, 15-minute teacher day does not change, to stay with the existing contractual guidelines. Teachers have 5 hours and 45 minutes of student contact time, plus lunch (30 minutes), a planning period (45 minutes), and 15 minutes of student supervision time as students are arriving or leaving.

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DPS parents have made a variety of comments on the schedule change via social media.

Many are concerned about adjusting transportation schedules for the second year in a row. Some students have to be at a bus stop very early for a 7 a.m. start to the school day, while others whose schools start later have conflicts their parents’ work schedules.

Stivers parents were split on the later start time, with some citing research that teens function better on a later start, while others questioned how after-school jobs, rehearsals and activities would be affected by a school day that doesn’t end until 4 p.m.

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Kerenesa Hughes is both a teacher and a parent of DPS students. She has to be at her school in the 7 a.m. hour, but her daughter’s day at Stivers now won’t begin until 9. She said she’s trying to find other parents to work with.

“If we’re going to jack with the schedule every year, we need the option to buy a one-way (RTA) bus pass,” Hughes said. “It costs way more for that bus pass than to drive my daughter. … I feel really stuck.”

Last year’s DPS schedule changes were designed to solve the district’s long-running busing problems, and Hughes applauded DPS’ improvement in busing last school year. But she said this is another example of DPS changing plans repeatedly, rather than sticking with systems for multiple years to get better data on what’s working.

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Lolli said DPS had hoped to implement the longer school day last year, but when the teachers’ contract wasn’t solved until a few days before the start of the school year, the move was pushed back. DPS’ first day of school is Monday, Aug. 13.

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DPS bell schedules

7 a.m to 2 p.m. — EJ Brown Middle School, Wogaman Middle School, Wright Brothers Middle School, Innovative Learning Center

7:10 to 2:10 — Charity Earley PreK-6*, Boys Prep PreK-6*, Cleveland PreK-6, Edison PreK-6, Kemp PreK-6, Louise Troy PreK-6, Ruskin PreK-6, Valerie PreK-6

7:45 to 2:45 — Dunbar High School, Meadowdale High School, Ponitz Career Tech Center

8:00 to 3:00 — Thurgood Marshall High School

8:10 to 3:10 — Eastmont PreK-6, Fairview PreK-6, Horace Mann PreK-6, Rivers Edge Montessori PreK-6, Rosa Parks preschool, Stivers grades 7-8

8:45 to 3:45 — Belmont High School

9:00 to 4:00 — Belle Haven PreK-6, Kiser PreK-6, Westwood PreK-6, World of Wonder PreK-6, Stivers grades 9-12

* — These two schools will house grades PreK-6 plus grade 8 for the 2018-19 school year, then will be PreK-6 only in the future.

NOTE: The listed start time for all elementary and middle schools is when the grab-and-go breakfast begins

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