The Washington Post reports that parents in Montgomery County have started two on-line petitions opposing adding 30 minutes to the school day in elementary schools. Superintendent Joshua Starr has proposed the longer elementary school day in conjunction with later high school start times.
Currently, the Montgomery County elementary school students are in school six hours and 15 minutes each day, the second shortest school day in the state. Even the current short hours are longer than the minimal weekly time allotted to students in Fairfax County. Averaged over a five-day school week, Fairfax County students have the equivalent of 6 hours and 10 minutes per day.
Emily Butler Ball, whose children are in first and second grade, signed the petition. However, she said she would be more open to the idea of a longer school day if it included more outdoor time and exercise.
In an interview this week, Larry A. Bowers, the school district’s chief operating officer, said officials are forming a work group to recommend ways to use the extra class time. Options include foreign language, technology or perhaps more art, music or physical education.
Fairfax County officials should also be considering all the various options for expanding the time for students by eliminating the Monday early dismissal policy. Perhaps the school officials in the two counties should have a joint study group to share ideas.