Carmel Clay Schools considers extending elementary school day, recess times

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The survey results made one thing very clear: Many parents of Carmel Clay Schools elementary students believe 15 minutes for recess is not enough.

The CCS school board of trustees reviewed the results of a two-year evaluation of elementary school programming at a Feb. 12 work session. They discussed potential ways to double recess time, including the possibility of extending the school day from 6.5 to 7 hours.

Several factors would need to be considered before extending a school day, such as the financial impact on paying hourly employees to work longer days. But the biggest challenge is reworking transportation schedules. The same school buses that transport elementary students are used to take secondary students to and from school, with the current bus schedule fitting elementary rides in between the longer secondary school day.

“We would like to start (the school day) as late as possible and get out as early as possible,” said Associate Supt. for Business Affairs Roger McMichael, who is also the district’s co-interim superintendent. “Somewhere in there is a transportation component, because as a practical matter we don’t have enough money to be financially responsible and double our buses so they could all run at the same time.”

The district will consider adjusting school start times, potentially shifting the beginning of the elementary school day earlier and pushing back the beginning of the secondary school day. Some people have previously advocated for a later start for older students, as they say it would better fit with their sleep schedules and needs.

However, McMichael said the district should avoid starting the school day too late, which would push back after-school and extracurricular activities later into the afternoon and evening.

CCS Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Martha McFarland said that the recommended time for classroom instruction is approximately 340 minutes per day, leaving only 50 minutes for lunch, recess and transition time in the current schedule.

“That leaves us short 30 to 45 minutes for what we would like to accomplish for elementary students,” McFarland said.

CCS Assistant Supt. of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Amy Dudley, who is also serving as a co-interim superintendent, did not rule out potentially implementing a new start time for the 2018-2019 school year, although she said it will likely take years to implement all of the recommendations.

“There’s no way you can do everything at once,” she said.

The school board is expected to continue its review of the elementary evaluation at its next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Feb. 26.

By the numbers

  • 1,185 – people who responded to the elementary evaluation survey
  • 86.5 – the percentage of respondents who are CCS parents
  • 390 – current number of minutes in a CCS elementary school day
  • 420 – optimal number of minutes needed for an elementary school day (with longer recess and some extended instructional time)

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