• Extra school hour burden falls on teachers, parents

    By: Erica Bennett


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - School will soon have an all new meaning for many young students in Duval County.
    Forty-one elementary schools are adding an extra hour of instruction time, as mandated by the state. San Jose is one of them.
    "It doesn't necessarily mean the school's not doing its job. A lot of the burden falls on the parents," father Bill McLaughlin said.
    It will also fall on teachers. Duval Public Schools are shelling out between $8 million and $10 million for overtime instruction, transportation and security guards.
    The four dozen local schools identified in Duval are among 300 underperforming schools statewide.
    "I think we're at a critical state where we have to have all hands on deck and move kids from Point A to Point B," Dr. Irvin Cohen said.
    Cohen is executive director of New Town Success Zone -- a community-based initiative aimed at helping at-risk youth and their families.
    "Particularly in communities like this, they need the extra time," he continued.
    Some parents are worried the extra hour will cut into after-school activities and force kids to walk home in the dark. DCPS says extracurricular activities will start after the extended day, and transportation will be provided. There's a lot of questions that still need to be answered, but McLaughlin says he's optimistic.
    "If the reading score’s low and it would benefit the children, I don't have a problem with it at all," he said.
    The new mandate won't affect every child. Students who scored a 5 or higher on the FCAT reading portion will be able to opt out of the extra instruction time.

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