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February 21, 2014

Caston starting earlier, ending later

District extends school day to make up lost time

FULTON — Beginning Monday, students at Caston School Corp. will start school earlier and end later in the day.

Caston school board members approved extending the school day by 50 minutes as a way to make up as much missed instructional time as possible prior to ISTEP+ testing.

Cindy Douglass, the district’s superintendent, recommended adding 25 minutes to both the beginning and the end of the school day.

“At this point, we’re looking at the least of the evils,” Douglass said.

A school board meeting was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday but had to be rescheduled to Wednesday because of winter weather. Douglass reached out to families and let them know what was going on.

During that time parents reached out and provided feedback, all of which was positive, Douglass said.

“Families have said they would prefer this to having kids in school in June,” Douglass said. “They understand desperate times call for desperate measures.”

ISTEP+ testing is weighing heavy on local administrators’ minds. One of the major concerns is students don’t know the things they need to know for upcoming high-stakes testing, Douglass said. It has become their goal to get as much time in where it is most useful — during the school year.

Students have missed 80 hours of instructional time from two hour delays and cancellations since Christmas break.

Board members had several concerns when talking about adding 50 additional minutes.

Gary Baumgardner, board member, expressed concern over the early time students would have to get on the bus. Douglass said the earliest students should be getting on the bus with the earlier schedule is 6:45 a.m.

“I hate to say it, but we’re still in winter months,” Baumgardner said. “We still might have cold weather and as it warms up we’ll have fog. My concern is we’ll miss the start time with two-hour delays.”

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