Extra Hour of School Proposed for Bay County Elementary Students

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BAY COUNTY - Bay County elementary students and teachers could be spending an extra hour a day at school. Supporters told school board members Tuesday that the change will benefit struggling students.

Bay County elementary students could spend more time reading, writing, and calculating if school board members approve a proposal to add an extra hour to the school day.

"The same schools struggle. They struggle because they have students that have further to go and a great majority of their students maybe don't come in with everything that they need and it's the school's job to catch them up," said Ginger Littleton, a school board member.

Littleton says the proposal gained support after Springfield Elementary School students showed major improvements in reading.

Administrators attribute that success to an extra hour of school, but they also say you can't just keep students an extra hour without a plan.

"Not only does the time have to be there but quality instruction has to occur. They can't just be putting raw numbers of minutes in a day. You would have to work with the quality of instruction and improving that with the extra time," said Denise Kelley, Bay District Schools Elementary Instruction Director.

Kelley says the district hasn't decided how schools will use that extra hour, but they have determined it will cost big bucks.

If the board approves an additional hour a day at all Bay County elementary schools, it would cost about five million dollars.

"I have also no doubt that funding is the issue and we have priorities. For me, student performance is the top priority," said Littleton.

District administrators are suggesting cuts to athletics, the arts, and school resource deputies to come up with the money.

The district will have to re-negotiate teacher contracts before the school board could even vote on the proposal.