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Students at NLS to have longer school day following board vote

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Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board approved Monday increasing the district-wide school day by 19 minutes of class time.

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Beginning with the 2008-09 school year, the New London-Spicer School District will have a new class-period schedule along with a longer school day of 7 hours of instruction.

"The main reason (for the schedule change) is impacting student achievement," said Superintendent Paul Carlson in a Tuesday phone interview. "We felt that with more time with our instructors that we'll have an impact on student achievement."

Prior to the change, the NLS school day ran from 8:24 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. For the middle school and high school, the district's school day of 6 hours and 41 minutes structured its six class periods unequally into three time lengths: 50 minutes, 49 minutes and 44 minutes.

The extended school day will start at 8:15 a.m. and finish at 3:15 p.m. With the new schedule, each class period will be 50 minutes long and additional minutes will be used for passing time between class periods and lunch.

The district looked at five scheduling options during Monday's board meeting, each option having its own advantages and disadvantages, according to a district chart. The board modified the option it chose, which had the most pros and least cons, by adding 5 additional minutes.

Carlson said the extra 5 minutes could accommodate student announcements during the first and last school periods each day. The extra time will also align the dismissal of the high school, middle school and elementary schools with a common dismissal time, Carlson said.

With the new schedule, morning bus routes will not be impacted and testing times will be equal for all class periods. Carlson said instructional days will also increase by 8.5 days with the extra minutes of instruction and there will be less unsupervised time of students between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. after class is dismissed.

"I really don't think there are any disadvantages at all to lengthening the school day," Carlson said. "...Research shows that from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. is the most time in which juveniles commit crimes. Now, at least we've extended that a little bit so there will be more adult supervision for a little bit longer period of time."

According to district figures, NLS schools had 174 instructional days per school year, six short of the 180-day national average.

In 2008-09, Carlson said, NLS schools will have 182 instructional days.

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