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Fewer, but longer school days

Screven County lengthens school hours to handle budget shortfall

Fewer, but longer school days

Fewer, but longer school days

Like many Screven County teachers, pr...


    Screven County students and teachers will be in the classroom 10 fewer days during the 2010-11 school year yet they’ll spend no less time in the classroom.
    Georgia law requires 180 days of in school instruction during a school year. But faced with a huge budget shortfall, Screven Schools Superintendent Dr. Whitney Myers and the school board came up with an unusual solution – 170 days of school that add up to 180 days of instruction.
    The additional budget cuts call for 10 furlough days for teachers. However, Myers said that to compensate for fewer days and meet state high school graduation standards, the school day had to be slightly extended. The elementary school day will be lengthened by 25 minutes, while the middle and high school have 15 additional minutes each day.
    The 10 furlough days eliminate $800,000 from the general fund payroll, in addition to daily operating costs, Myers said.
    The changes do raise concerns said Screven High Principal Brett Warren. Warren said the change in scheduling affects preparation for the Georgia High School Graduation Writing Test. Juniors typically begin preparation at the beginning of school for the test held in September, but this year, educators are working with one less week of preparation, he said.
    Warren is also hopeful that an equal amount of content can be covered in classes without those days.
    “The three minutes added onto each class are suppose to make up for the lost days, but it’s not the same as having 10 more days to cover material,” he said. “It’s not as if a new subject can be introduced in those three minutes.”
    Despite the challenges, Warren said, “We have a strong focus on literacy and rigor going into the new school year, to prepare students for high stakes testing and for when they get out of school.”
    Screven Elementary Principal Becky Martin said that her teachers have tried to keep a good attitude regarding furloughs and changes in scheduling, but “it hurts to lose pay,” she said. “It’s tough, but the teachers (will always) give their best for the kids.”
    “The students are still our top priority,” said Assistant Principal Vonncina Kirkland.
    Along with several other teachers, Pre-K teacher Mary Evelyn Wells already is in her classroom, working to prepare for the coming year.
    “Of course the budget cuts have been difficult, as these economic times have been for everyone” Wells said, “but I am anxious to meet the new students and to get the year started again.”
    Open house for all students and families will be held on Friday, Aug. 6, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their respective schools.
    The first day of school is Monday, Aug. 9. Elementary students should report to school by 8 a.m. and will be dismissed at 2:40 p.m. Middle school students report by 7:55 a.m. and dismiss at 3 p.m., while high school students report by 8:05 a.m. and dismiss at 3:12 p.m.

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