School leaders want to consider lengthening school days - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Belvidere and Rockford school leaders want to consider lengthening school days

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The Unites Stated finds itself out-educated by other countries in the last few decades. To improve our statistics, federal lawmakers weigh the pros and cons of longer school days.  Rockford area school leaders are tossing around the idea too.

 Administrators from both the Rockford and Belvidere school districts say, adding to hours spent in the classroom is an option they hope to one day consider.

"We do believe in the concept of doing what we can to extend the learning opportunities for students...whether it's a longer school day a longer school week or a longer school year, says Dr. Ehren Jarrett, Rockford School District 205 Assistant Superintendent

Rockford already has two extended learning opportunities: summer program and the year round Haskell School. While they are a good start, Jarrett realizes these models aren't enough to benefit all of the city's students.

East of Rockford, schools are in a similar situation.

Michael Houselog, Belvidere School District 100 Superintendent says, "When we look at our school year here in Belvidere, we'd like to have more of course. and in some places we'd like to have a lot more."

Houselog says the district sees the most need for change at the middle school level.  But restructuring the school day is easier said than done. "The problem that we've always struggled with is how do we pay for that?" he asks.

A difficult dilemma,  but not an impossible one.  "There are some funding opportunities out there through grants and we would also consider making the investment in our budget if we felt like it was going to have the appropriate impact on student achievement," says Jarrett.  

There are no plans to extend the school day at this time for either district. Both Houselog and Jarrett agree, its not always about the amount of time spent in the classroom, but the quality of that time.

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