FARMINGTON — The RSU 9 school board voted 11-3 Tuesday to approve 34 late-arrival Wednesdays for students in the next year.
School will begin one hour later than usual on those days, and supervision will be available for students whose parents have child care conflicts, Superintendent Tom Ward said.
The vote included approval of six early-release days for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and two early-release days for the middle and high school students. Four of the early-release days for the lower grades are scheduled on Fridays and the two others that include the upper grades are scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, to coincide with Farmington Fair week, and Friday, Jan. 16, 2015.
Students in kindergarten through grade six have 17 early-release days this year and those in the upper grades have nine. The 10 minutes added to the lower grades’ school day this year to offset the early-release days will be eliminated, Ward said.
Directors James Black and Keith Swett, both of Wilton, and Ross Clair of Chesterville opposed the vote.
The new schedule will offer consistency for staff development, Ward said.
Director Betsey Hyde of Temple said she loved the proposed calendar for the coming school year for many reasons, including consistency and the opportunity to spend one more hour with her children on Wednesday mornings.
Black, a school teacher in another district, said RSU 9 has more early-release days this year than the nearest school systems. He said he wanted to see a dollar value attached to the lost class time and to see what will be gained.
Ward said nine hours would be gained for professional development.
Darlene Paine, principal of Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon, said the time would be well-spent to help teachers continue to learn how to better meet the needs of students. Teachers are asked to do a lot but are not given the time to do it, she said.
“We all know teachers’ days do not end when the kids (go home),” Ward said.
Black said he was concerned about at-risk children and their need for adult role models.
“These kids need a safe place to be,” he said. “I think at-risk kids are falling through the cracks more and more.”
Directors also voted 12-2, with Black and Swett opposed, to approve the 2014-15 school calendar.
The calendar includes four teacher workshop days with two affecting students. It also slates Sept. 2, the day after Labor Day, as the first day of school for students. The last day of school would be June 9, 2015, a half-day for students.
NOTE: The story has been modified since it was first published to reflect the correct RSU 9 vote and the directors that opposed the vote. It was incorrectly reported by the Sun Journal. It was a reporter error.