SAD 44 to extend school day by one hour

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BETHEL — Students in School Administrative District 44 will be in school one hour longer for the next 25 days to make up five storm days, Superintendent David Murphy said.

“Taking this step now should prove to be beneficial in the event we see additional snow days in the coming months,” he wrote in a letter to parents. “It will also help prevent the need to extend the school year into the end of June, when classroom temperatures often tend to become challenging.”

Beginning Monday, students at Crescent Park Elementary School and Telstar Regional Middle/High School, both in Bethel, and Woodstock Elementary School will be dismissed an hour later than usual.

Murphy said in his letter that the extended days will end just after April vacation. Without them, the last day of school would be June 22, assuming there are no more storm days.

Five storm days were built into the school calendar, but nine have been used so far.

The district also notified parents via their Facebook page, and many of the comments showed parents’ concern about how the extended days will affect after-school activities and jobs, and students.

“I would definitely prefer extended days compared to adding a week on at the end of the school year,” said Tia Jeselskis of Bryant Pond, whose daughter, Ayva, attends the Woodstock school. “However, Ayva is involved in a lot of after-school activities, so that definitely impacts our schedules quite a bit, since now everything will be pushed back an hour,” Jeselskis said.

Crescent Park School Principal Elaine Ferland said winter sports are over and spring sports have not started. For students who participate in after-school activities outside the district, some may need to leave early to get to dance lessons or other appointments already made, she said.

“We all need to be flexible,” Ferland said.

Parents were also concerned about the effect a longer day will have on younger students, and Ferland addressed that concern as well.

“It’s a long day for our littles, that’s for sure, and we’re adjusting their schedules for activities to engage students later in the day,” she said. The school might add an extra snack period to keep students fueled for learning, she said.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Tonya Lewis of Bryant Pond, whose daughter, Lily, also attends the Woodstock school. “I’d much rather they go for an extra hour now than an extra week in June!”

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