FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 29, 2021
Gary Community School Corporation Announces Longer School Day to Accelerate Student Learning
More time in school equivalent to adding 30 instructional days;
will result in more opportunities for students, more pay for educators
(Gary, IND) – For years, the Gary Community School Corporation’s school days have been shorter than most school districts in the state, limiting students’ opportunities to progress in academics, participate in enrichment activities, and stay on track for graduation.
Today, the Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC) announced that it is expanding opportunities for students by extending its school day for one hour each day over the course of the entire school year. This change will result in the equivalent of 30 days a year of additional instruction for students. Over their K-12 educational career, the longer school day will add up to nearly two more years of learning time for students.
“Our students deserve every chance to be successful, and extending our school day will create more opportunities for students to grow academically and social-emotionally,” said Dr. Paige McNulty, Manager of the GCSC. “Both parents and teachers supported this plan in our survey, and we are excited to take another step forward in leveling the playing field between our students and their peers in other communities who already have lengthier school days.”
This scheduling change comes with the support of a majority of families and teachers surveyed this month by GCSC. Lengthening the school day also comes after the pandemic disrupted more than a year of instruction, heightening the need to find opportunities to accelerate students’ academic growth and support students socially and emotionally. Research shows that when school days are lengthened and certified teachers are providing literacy and math instruction, children realize statistically significant gains in both subject areas. Children are also safer and risky behaviors are reduced.
The extended school day will lead to increased pay for teachers and other school staff, by as much as $10,000 a year in some cases. In the near term, federal funding will cover the estimated $3.5 million annual cost. In the long term, increased per-pupil funding from the state will help make the extended school day the new normal for the GCSC. The additional expenditures were commended at today’s meeting of the Distressed Unit Appeal Board, with Chairman Justin McAdam calling the move a “bold investment in the children of Gary.”
“Extending the school day is one of those unique changes that benefits students, teachers, and families,” said State Sen. Eddie Melton, who is also an Advisory Member on DUAB. “Students have more opportunities to learn and participate in enrichment activities, teachers receive increased compensation, and families know their children are in a safe and supportive environment while they’re at work. I want to commend the teachers and families for making this commitment. I’m happy that the funding that we allocated during this past legislative session was able to assist this effort. Today is a great day for the Gary Community School Corporation.”
Every school district GCSC reviewed has a longer school day than GCSC has had. For example, public schools in Carmel, East Chicago, Hammond, Indianapolis, and Merrillville all have school days that are 6.5 hours per day or longer. Comparatively, Gary middle school and high school students have only attended the state minimum of 6 hours per day, meaning Gary students were losing 14 days a year of instruction compared to their peers in other districts.
“Thanks to tuition support changes from the General Assembly, we’re able to make a sustainable move to a longer school day for our students,” Dr. McNulty said. “This shift has the potential to be a gamechanger for students, who are also benefiting from improved school facilities and new curricula and technology.”
With the longer school day, elementary and middle school students will be able to spend twice as much time on math and reading. High school students will have another class period, which they can spend earning more credits through electives and academic courses like Advanced Placement and dual credit classes with local colleges and universities. The additional class period will also give high school students more opportunities to accrue the credits they need to graduate.
Student extra-curricular activities like sports programs will not be interrupted by the extended school day. Transportation costs will remain consistent as times will be adjusted, but additional routes will not be added.
GCSC has collaborated with the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board and its labor law attorney to ensure that extending the school day is compliant with collective bargaining and Indiana’s labor law. Neither a memorandum or understanding nor an amendment to GCSC’s current collective bargaining agreement is required. GCSC has discussed this item with the Gary Teachers Union; the teachers will receive a contract for the 2021-2022 school year that includes a salary that is reflective of the longer school day. IDOE has been consulted regarding the use of Title I and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funds to support this activity.
The schedule change comes as GCSC is making many other improvements to support students’ learning. Buildings across the district are being renovated through the $25 million School Improvement Fund. ESSER funding is making additional teacher and administrator training possible and assisting with a transition to new curricula across subject areas. The referendum passed in November 2020 is also contributing to more opportunities and support for students and the first raise for Gary teachers in more than a decade.
In addition to educational support services, each day every GCSC student receives two nutritious meals and one snack and can use a computer and internet access to support their learning.
All media inquiries should be directed to Chelsea Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org.