The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 31, 2013

Schools back call for longer year, but want local control

Brooke Montgomery said she understands a recent proposal to lengthen the school year by more than a week, but she would be opposed to it if it conflicted with the freedom of summer.

“It would give us more learning time, but at the same time, we want to have time to decompress and have summer vacation,” said Montgomery, a freshman at Webb City High School. “(Summer vacation) is important to me because I just kind of need some time to take a break from everything and hang out with my friends.”

The call to lengthen Missouri’s academic year has come from Gov. Jay Nixon, who said during his State of the State address on Monday that his proposed budget includes $100 million of new funding for education that would be used, in part, to add more than a week to the state’s 174-day academic year, bringing it to 180 days.

“To stay competitive in today’s economy, Missouri’s students should be in the classroom as much as their peers in other states,” Nixon told The Associated Press last month. “Extending Missouri’s school year by just six instructional days will bring our state in line with the national average while increasing educational opportunities for every student.”

Nixon said Missouri has the fourth-shortest school year in the nation. State law mandates 174 days for schools with a five-day week.

Figures from the Education Commission of the States show that as of 2011, more than half the states required at least 180-day school calendars. Alaska, Colorado and Michigan had shorter minimum school years than Missouri. Oklahoma requires 180 days, while Kansas requires 186 days for kindergarten through 11th grade and 181 days for 12th grade.

The length of the school year is governed by state statute, so any changes would require new legislation. Scott Holste, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said Nixon is proposing that state lawmakers consider passing such a bill.

Several students, in addition to Montgomery, said they don’t disagree with the governor’s proposal. But they said they would be against adding days to the academic calendar if it would extend the school year into late May or early June.

“I wouldn’t like it because our summer breaks are already crunched,” said Webb City sophomore Cameron Tournear, who spends his vacation in weight classes and football practice.

Webb City senior Abigail Naaykens, while acknowledging that any change to the calendar would come too late to affect her, said she would prefer that days be added in August or sprinkled in throughout the year — before year-end exams and standardized tests are administered.

“That would make more sense because that would give us more time to prepare (for the exams),” she said.

Local superintendents said they support having more instructional time for students, but several questioned the logistics of the proposal.

Joplin Superintendent C.J. Huff said additional classroom time would be welcome for students who need it. But he said he would prefer to increase the number of required hours, rather than the number of days, and give each district the authority to administer those hours when and where they are needed.

“The governor is on the right track with the idea of providing more time for those learners,” he said. “It’s just a question of flexibility at the local level.”

Jasper Superintendent Rick Stark said he also would advocate increasing the academic calendar by a set number of hours. He said districts should be able to control how to allocate the extra time.

“It just makes more sense,” he said.

Webb City Superintendent Tony Rossetti said he was encouraged by the proposal for reasons beyond more classroom time for students.

“Obviously, additional instructional time hopefully will equate to more learning, more time to cover material,” he said. “(Schools) also are a place where we know that kids are going to get a breakfast and a lunch.”

But he questioned to what extent the proposal would be funded by the state. Adding more than a week to the academic calendar could increase operational costs, potentially at a negative impact for districts that rely heavily on local taxpayer support, he said.

“The concept of additional days — I think that’s good for kids,” he said. “Now the funding mechanism — that’s a big horse to wrangle.”

The Missouri School Boards’ Association said lengthening the school year could raise costs for personnel and operations, but that it is worthy of discussion. The association said some districts already exceed the minimum requirements.

“There is a lot of merit to the idea of extending the school year and providing students with increased instructional time,” spokesman Brent Ghan said.

Mike Wood, a lobbyist for the Missouri State Teachers Association, said increasing the number of hours instead of the number of days might be more significant. He said the schedules used by high-performing districts could serve as a guide.

“If our goal is more time equals improved student achievement, I think that’s something everybody needs to work toward,” he said.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS contributed to this report.

Calendar history

MOST AMERICAN SCHOOL CALENDARS average 180 days, with several small breaks during the year and a longer summer vacation, largely because of historical farming obligations during the summer months, according to James Pedersen, of Seton Hall University, in a 2012 article for the Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ArtFest.jpg Giant footballs arrive in Pittsburg; organizers seeking more underwriters, artists for event

    Twenty-four giant fiberglass footballs arrived in Pittsburg on Wednesday to officially kick off SEK Art Fest’s second annual public art event.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cancer patient’s drug, probation cases postponed ‘until further notice’

    A Joplin woman who is battling a rare type of cancer has gotten a temporary reprieve in her drug and probation cases so she can focus on her health issues, according to her attorney. Velma Crain, who appeared Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court, was facing the possible revocation of her probation after having been arrested last year on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance.

    April 15, 2014

  • Suspect in assault on officer apprehended in Texas

    The U.S. Marshals Service caught up with a suspect in Texas who was wanted in an assault on a Seneca police officer and alleged probation violations in Arkansas. Cory A. Rantz, 25, is being held in Collin County north of Dallas on warrants issued in Missouri and Arkansas. Federal marshals reportedly located the fugitive at a strip mall in Texas on Monday afternoon and took him into custody.

    April 15, 2014

  • Ex-Jasper teacher’s aide accused of sexual contact with student

    A former teacher’s aide at Jasper High School has been charged with having sexual relations with a 16-year-old student and is being investigated for possible sexual contact with other boys at the school. Janice L. Rusk, 43, was arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree statutory rape and second-degree statutory sodomy following investigations by school officials and law enforcement.

    April 15, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Open a beer, chat with Tom, see his exhibit

    I like to think that I would have gotten along with Thomas Hart Benton. Sure, I’ve read that sometimes Tom (I think I can call him Tom) could be grouchy, and if someone said something stupid or acted like a jerk, he didn’t mind telling that person exactly what he thought of him. But hey, I grew up with people like that.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • r041514recycledfashion.jpg Joplin High School students to model ‘recycled’ dresses at fashion show

    Audrey Kaman will walk the runway later this week wearing a dress she designed herself — made out of 250 doilies. “I’d say it’s a fun dress,” the Joplin High School sophomore said. “It’s not really elegant because it’s short, but it’s cute.”

    April 15, 2014 4 Photos

  • Shooter in Joplin murder sentenced to life in prison

    The teen convicted of being the triggerman in the murder of Jacob Wages was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole. At a hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin, Circuit Judge Gayle Crane followed a jury’s recommendations in assessing Daniel D. Hartman, 18, two life sentences on convictions for second-degree murder and armed criminal action, and 15 years on a conviction for burglary.

    April 15, 2014

  • Interchange construction work near Carterville to create safer off-ramp

    As the Missouri Department of Transportation begins rebuilding eastbound ramps at the Missouri Highway 171 and Route HH interchange near Carterville this week, drivers can expect ramp and occasional lane closures. The $1.5 million project, funded by the state, will increase the distance between ramps for drivers traveling northbound on Highway 249 and exiting eastbound to Highway 171.

    April 15, 2014

  • Commission awards contract for bridge replacement project

    The Jasper County Commission on Tuesday approved a contract for construction of a new bridge on County Road 48.

    April 15, 2014

  • Neosho Ethics Board calls witnesses in complaint against council members

    City Manager Troy Royer on Monday night described what he said was an assault by City Councilman Steve Hart, and other incidents involving Hart and Councilman David Ruth. His statements were made to the Neosho Ethics Board, which is investigating a complaint filed against Hart and Ruth. Board members had described Royer as their key witness.

    April 15, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

In an effort to curb prostitution, St. Louis police are targeting, and perhaps humiliating, the "johns" who use the services. Postcards mailed to the homes of those charged with trying to pick up prostitutes will offer a reminder about spreading sexually transmitted diseases, along with listing the court date. Do you think this is a good approach?

A. Yes.
N. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter