Alfred G. Prodell starts to look closely at an earlier start for its school day

Alfred G. Prodell Middle School in Shoreham, N.Y. The school is considering extending its school day to nine periods for the 2020-21 school year.

By Maya Brown and Sasha Podzorov

A school committee has started exploring parent concerns and additional scheduling models to move from an eight to a nine-period school day at Alfred G. Prodell Middle School, Superintendent Gerard Poole said on Feb. 4.

The school district held a parent meeting about the schedule change for students, faculty and staff, going from an 8:23 a.m. to a 7:20 a.m. start. 

“I have no problem with extending the day, just not so much at the beginning of the day,”  Ashley Hadjoglou, a parent of a 4th grader from Shoreham-Wading River Central School District, said. “It would be very difficult for many students to wake up for and could have a negative impact on their health.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2018 that early school start times are one of the reasons that adolescents do not get enough sleep and recommend that middle and high schools start at 8:30 am or later. 

“Students at that age are going to bed at a reasonable time because they don’t have some of the responsibilities that older students have,” James Barnes, principal of Chestnut Ridge Middle School in Washington Township, N.J., said. Barnes, however, believes that 7:20 a.m. could be a little early for middle schoolers.

With the proposed schedule change, students would explore more elective courses in a mandatory nine-period day, opening up scheduling slots for advanced classes during their time at high school.

“Looking at the middle school schedule, our students do have opportunities at all levels, no matter what their needs are in the building, but they don’t have access to all the courses that they could have if you had a nine-period day,” Poole said.

One out of four middle school students are unable to participate in activities they would otherwise be able to, according to a community survey conducted by a school sanctioned sub-committee. The survey was recorded for three months prior to the Jan. 7 Board of Education meeting.  

“It is the Board of Education’s responsibility to support the administration in exploring additional learning opportunities for our students,” Michael Lewis, Shoreham-Wading River Central School District Board of Education President, said. 

Students who are in music ensembles — over 50 percent of the student body — attend school in the morning to practice. With the proposed change, the music program could be scheduled in the middle of the school day, giving those students more access to exploratory courses such as art and technology. 

“It may be hard for students to stay after school, so integrating into the school day makes time for that exploration,” Stephanie Auditore, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Middle-Level Education, said.It’s a time for them to explore and find their identity.”  

Before the next steps are taken, the district will first look at the costs and what will be possible in terms of transportation. “It’s important that bussing is provided so that all students can access extra help,” Oceanside Middle School Principal, Dr. Allison Glickman-Rogers, said.

Shoreham-Wading River High School begins its school day at 7:20 a.m.,  which creates a potential conflict in bus scheduling. 

“The most important thing is to get it right, instead of hurrying up to put something in that we haven’t taken the feedback or haven’t done all of the necessary background work for,” Poole said.

There is no set timeline as to when the decision to switch over to nine periods will be made, but the change would most likely go into effect for the upcoming school year. 

 

About Maya Brown 1 Article
Maya Nairobi Brown is from Freeport, N.Y. and is a current second-year student journalist at Stony Brook University. She has been interested in the field of journalism since high school, as her love for journalism began after attending the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists at Stony Brook University. After the institute, she became Editor of ‘Flashings,’ her high school newspaper, and after getting into the routine of reporting, interviewing and writing, she felt a passion for what she was doing. She knew the path she wanted to take was reaching her ultimate career goal of becoming a writer for a news publication and eventually, a TV reporter in broadcast journalism covering immigration and politics. She feels that producing news that impacts people or tells a story that needs to be told is an amazing feeling. It’s definitely more than just seeing your byline, it’s the success of the reporting and the feeling it leaves within people. Journalism allows her to continue learning, meet new people everyday and most importantly aid in letting the public know what needs to be heard.