Jackson County School District extends school day by half hour

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. -- Students in the Jackson County School District are starting off the new school year with extended school days.

Superintendent Kevin Dukes and other school leaders, including principals and counselors, looked at potential changes to the schedule last year and talked about extending school days by a half hour in January.

"If we don't change we're going to continue getting the same results we've been getting, and we want to take it a step further in Jackson County," Dukes said.

This school year, they decided to extend the school day by a half hour, with an opportunity to get out early on Friday.

"We were a four-block day and now we're going to an eight-period day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, it will be back to the block," Dukes explained.

Each school used to set start and end times based on what worked for bus routes in large counties.

"We've got 17 schools in our system so I wanted to try to be equitable across the board," Dukes said. "So every school starting at 7:30, and every school ending at three o'clock."

Some parents have concerns about the new schedule. Alisa Rogers is a mom of two students in the system. She has concerns about whether or not teachers are getting adequately compensated for that extra time, how the decision to modify the schedule was made and whether or not it was the best one for the kids.

"Their brains just need time away from the classroom just to process the information that they've received during the day," Rogers explained. "They need adequate time to have a break, they need adequate sleep."

Rogers said she's also concerned about extracurricular activities ending late, bus routes and giving time for her kids to be kids. She plans to bring her concerns to the open school board meeting Thursday in Scottsboro.

Dukes said they made the change because they believe it will improve the instruction the students receive.

"This does give students more instruction time, and again, when we're giving our students extra instruction time, and when we're trying to improve as a system, I only can see it as beneficial," Dukes said.

At the end of the year, school officials plan to reevaluate and see if they need to make any changes or go another route. Dukes said in the process of making the decision they evaluated other systems to see what could work for the district. Other systems in the area, like neighboring Marshall County Schools, are on a similar schedule.

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