Florida bill would mandate a minimum time for recess

Mandated recess time up for debate again in Florida legislature.  A bill proposed by Senator Anitere Flores, a Republican from Miami, states, “Each district school board shall provide at least 100 minutes of supervised, safe and unstructured free-play recess each week for students in kindergarten through grade 5 so that there are at least 20 consecutive minutes of free-play recess per day.”

Teacher compensation in Prince William County is studied

According to a consultant’s report presented to the Prince William County School Board, teachers leave Prince William County school to go to Fairfax at the same rate that an equal number of staff members go to Prince William from Fairfax.

The Prince William Times reports that Prince William County Public Schools is behind other Northern Virginia school divisions in the lower steps of the teacher salary scales; however, they “are fairly competitive at mid-range, and above average at the top end of the scales.”

Segal Waters Consulting recommends several changes to the pay scale to help retain teachers. “They include adjusting the scale to reflect market rates throughout the salary scale and boosting tuition reimbursements for teachers and support staff, with a focus on encouraging staff to pursue teacher certification.”

The 2015-16 Total Compensation Market Study reports that PWCS has a teacher turnover rate of 10 percent. Exit surveys show that the top three reasons staff leave are spousal transfers, long commute, and family responsibilities.

Canadian study shows benefit of later school start times

“Later start times could help Canadian teens’ grades,” Science Daily reports. “Researchers found that students from schools that started earlier slept less, were less likely to meet the national sleep recommendations for their age, and were more often tired in the morning.”

Science Daily reports that a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research used “data covering 30,000 students from 362 schools across Canada, from a cross-national survey conducted every four years in more than 40 countries in collaboration with the World Health Organization.”

Start times in the Canadian schools ranged from around 8:00 to 9:30. “We found a strong association between later school start times and better sleep for teens,” says Prof. Frank Elgar, co-author of the study.

Bill would require nurses for Virginia schools

Delegate L. Mark Dudenhefer, (R-Stafford) has sponsored a bill calling for every school district to employ at least one full-time equivalent school nurse in each elementary, middle and high school, and at least one full-time equivalent school nurse position per 1,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12.

Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church) is the co-patron of HB1757. The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that Fairfax County has 65 nurses and 200 aides serving about 185,00 students at 19 schools.

The Times-Dispatch reports that the Virginia Association of Superintendents argues that the requirement would be difficult to put in place.

 They say many areas, particularly in Southwest and Southside Virginia, are dealing with nursing shortages. How, the association asks, is the district supposed to find nurses when hospitals are having a difficult time finding staff.”

Colorado school district change to later start times

The Cherry Creek School District in Colorado might start high school classes an hour later next year. The Star Scottsbluff Herald reports that “parents, students and staff members who responded to a survey last year overwhelmingly supported moving the start time to 8:14 a.m. for high school and 8:50 a.m. for middle school. Elementary schools would start and end earlier.”

“A different reality”

Education was mentioned in President Donald Trump’s inaugural address in the context of a “different reality” –

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

He then said, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Who are the nefarious schemers who are showered with cash and then deprive our students of all knowledge? It is jarring to see the American education system included in a dark vision of “American carnage.”

Tennessee schools are required to provide time for non-structured physical activity

A new state law in Tennessee requires kindergartners and first graders to get 225 minutes of unstructured physical activity a week, and second through sixth graders must get 160 minutes per week.

News Channel 11 reports that the department of education is helping schools comply with the new physical activity law.  School districts were sent a memo in December explaining that “classroom activity breaks like Go Noodle cannot count towards the law because they are structured activities and the law requires activities to be non-structured.”

Channel 11 reports that local school districts would like to see more clarification or even changes. Greene County Director of Schools David McLain suggested that a law simply saying kids need 45 minutes a day of physical activity would be better.

Fort Pierce Library offers program for early dismissal days

In Florida, TCCPalm reports that the Fort Pierce Library is offering an after-school program on early dismissal days:

Middle school students looking for something different on early dismissal days can stop by the Fort Pierce Library to hone their S.T.E.M. skills with games such as Prime Climb, Escape Evil and Qwirkle.

Early release dates for 2017 school year are: Jan 25; Feb. 15; March 10; April 5; May 24; and June 1 and 2. The Early Release Day program starts at 2:30 p.m.

Food truck delivers lunch to students on Monday holiday

Capital Schools’ food truck now delivers: District to keep kids fed when schools are off. The Delaware State News reports that a new food truck run by the Capital School District delivered free lunches to children on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. This was a test run for food deliveries this summer.

The new food truck cost an estimated $147,000 and was purchased with federal school lunch program grants.

The truck will visit communities Monday through Thursday each week during the summer break and provide a free lunch to anyone 18 years old and younger.

Rapid City schools might end early dismissals

The Rapid City school district is studying how to eliminate early dismissals on Wednesdays while still providing professional development for teachers. In 2012, this South Dakota school district started dismissing students an hour and a half to two hours early on Wednesdays.

“But the early-release day has created its own problems for parents, educators and district officials in the last few years,” the Rapid City Journal reports. “The logistics of transporting and keeping students occupied and safe once they get out of school early on a midweek day had proven difficult for some parents.”

Superintendent Lori Simon has created a task for of teachers and principals to discuss possible alternatives. Simon is opposed to the current early dismissal policy, citing its negative effect on attendance:

“Wednesday is usually the best attendance day for schools, and that used to be the case for us in Rapid,” she said. “with the early-release Wednesdays, we are seeing it have a very negative impact. It’s now one of our worst attendance days.”

Rapid City schools already suffer from some of the worst attendance in the nation, and fixing that problem has been one of Simon’s top priorities since she took the helm in July.