Andover students and teachers will be seeing a change to their school day starting in the fall of the 2019-2020 school year when fifteen minutes will be added to the school day.
Mr. Shea, an English teacher at Andover High as well as a member of the union team that took part in the last faculty contract negotiating process, said that the main questions people are asking about this decision involve why we are having the extension and how these fifteen minutes will be used. Shea said, “It will help give a little bit of relief to our typical day, depending on how the time is used, which hasn’t been determined yet…. The fifteen minutes could give us a little bit more passing time, maybe a few extra minutes for lunch, and allow us to breathe a little bit more during the school day.”
Mrs. Walke, another English teacher at Andover High, has the hope that these fifteen minutes will turn into time well spent.. She posed a question: “What will this end up looking like and where will that time go?” Most teachers and students alike can probably sympathize with this statement: if the day is fifteen minutes longer, those fifteen minutes better be worthy.
Superintendent Sheldon Berman is ready and excited for this change to take place. Berman believes that adding time to the day will be “a very positive change because it provides more time for teachers to go into greater depth and for students to develop deeper understandings.” According to Berman, the reason why the School Committee wants to extend the day is because Andover has one of the shortest school days compared to other schools in the Merrimack Valley.
The fifteen-minute time increase was not a decision that was easily made. Mr. Shea said, “We finally decided on fifteen minutes, as one party wanted more and one party wanted less. It took us some time to get there, but coming to the fifteen minutes wasn’t that hard.”
“Change is hard for all of us,” said Shea. “We did push it to the third year [of the contract] instead of doing it right away. We thought it was important to extend the day, but also to give it some time to really think about how we’re going to use the time versus just sticking fifteen minutes in. My only hope is that between this year and next year we will have a very thoughtful discussion about what’s best for kids, and how we can really harness that fifteen minutes of time.”
The additional fifteen minutes will total to an additional seventy-five minutes per week, which would then, over the course of the entire school year, add up to about seven additional school days.
By Mia Wood