School bell will ring a bit later in Hudson

HUDSON – Students at five Hudson schools will spend a little more time in the classroom this school year.

Changes to the start and end times at the district’s four elementary schools and one middle school will add 110 school days to the educational career of a student who attends first through eighth grade in the Hudson School District, according to Superintendent Randy Bell.

The school day will be extended 20 minutes at Hudson’s elementary schools and 26 minutes at Hudson Memorial School.

The elementary schools – Dr. H.O. Smith School, Hills Garrison School, Library Street School and Nottingham West Elementary School – will start at 8:45 a.m. instead of 8:50 a.m. and end at 3:05 p.m. instead of 2:50 p.m.

Hudson Memorial will start at 7:50 a.m. instead of 8:11 a.m. and end at 2:17 p.m. instead of 2:13 p.m.

Alvirne High School’s start and end times will not change.

The adjustments are minor but add 90 hours of instructional time a year. That’s 720 hours over eight years, which equates to about 110, 6-1/2-hour school days, Bell said. That’s more than half a school year.

The state Department of Education requires schools to be open at least 180 days each year or have 945 hours of instructional time each year, according to its Web site.

“It’s an awful lot of time accumulated,” Bell said.

Bell said he’s wanted to extend the school day for some time, but bus schedules were always an issue.

With the buses arriving on a staggered schedule, he thought more buses would be needed to get all of the students to school earlier. That would have been cost-prohibitive, he said.

But this summer he talked with the district’s bus company and learned that minor adjustments to the bus pick-up times, no more than five to 10 minutes, enabled the buses to arrive at the schools earlier and at the same time, Bell said.

The only cost for the longer days is about $28,000, Bell said, to pay the district’s 26 full-time paraprofessionals since their salary is based on the students’ day.

Bell called that expense “very well worth it.”

The extended day also allows for a better use of time, Bell said, including block scheduling for core subjects, such as math and reading, and better scheduling for teachers in subjects such as art, music and languages.

Extending the school day was the only way to increase students’ classroom time in reading and math without cutting back on some other subjects, Bell said.

“It has a lot of ramifications,” Bell said.

“It isn’t just the quantity. It’s the quality of the time we’re using.”