Flagler Schools could add 7 minutes to high school day next year

Flagler’s calendar committee suggests adding 1 minute to every high school class for the 2024-25 school year in order to have no school on polling days or the week of Thanksgiving.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal | By Mary Ellen Ritter | December 4, 2023

Flagler Schools is considering adding one minute to each class period at the high school level — equaling seven minutes of additional instructional time each day — for the 2024-25 school year. 

Doing so would allow the district to have off on election days and all of Thanksgiving week.

The Flagler calendar committee will meet today and present an update to the board at its agenda workshop meeting Tuesday. The finalized 2024-25 calendar will come before the board for a final decision at its Dec. 19 meeting.

Louise Bossardet, the district’s coordinator of data quality, shared a presentation at Flagler’s Nov. 28 workshop meeting outlining roadblocks Flagler’s calendar committee is accounting for. 

Per Florida Statute 1001.42, schools cannot start earlier than Aug. 10. Since Aug. 10 falls on a Saturday in 2024, the district cannot start its school year until Monday, Aug. 12. 

Additionally, 2024 is an election year, and five of Flalger’s schools — Belle Terre, Old Kings, Rymfire and Wadsworth elementary schools, and Matanzas High School — will be used as polling places on Aug. 20 and Nov. 5. 

Bossardet mentioned that the Flagler community would prefer students have the entire week of Thanksgiving off from school and as well as when school buildings are used as polling sites, so the calendar committee is considering having no school on Aug. 20, Nov. 5 and Nov. 25-29.

The presentation also outlined district priorities, which include ending the first semester prior to winter break, balancing the number of days in each quarter and meeting the minimum number of instructional minutes required by Floria Statute 1003.436 for each semester. 

In order for Flagler Schools to start on Aug. 12, end its first semester by winter break, have a week off for Thanksgiving and have no school on polling days, there would be 85 days in the first semester and 94 in the second. The district would not meet the necessary number of instructional minutes required by Florida Statute 1003.436. 

“Currently at our high schools, our periods are 47 minutes in length. If we were to take 47 minutes times the 85, we would fall short of that (required) 67.5 hours,” Bossardet said at the workshop meeting. “We need 48 minutes in the period in order to let 85 days work in a semester.”

The school board favored adding seven minutes to each day at the high school level over having school on either polling days or the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. The school day, which now ends at 2:40 p.m., would be proposed to end at 2:47 p.m.

Since high schools issue credits for classes that meet graduation requirements, they are required to meet the necessary number of instructional minutes, whereas elementary and middle schools are not, Bossardet explained. Therefore, this change will only impact high schools. 

“Add a minute,” board member Cheryl Massaro said. “That’s what’s going to keep the community and the staff and the kids happy.”

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