Student classroom time set to increase

by Gaven Crites

Students in the Northwest School Division will be spending more time in the classroom come September.
Recent regulatory changes adopted by the Government of Saskatchewan, which take effect this fall, will see students from across the province spending at least 950 hours of class time, up from 920 hours recorded this year for area schools.

That means an additional 30 hours of student and teacher face-to-face time.

According to Duane Hauk, NWSD director of education, area schools are looking at slightly increasing the length of school days to meet the new educational requirements.

“We’re playing around with things right now to see what kind of options we have,” Hauk said. “One of the options is adding 10 minutes to the school day. We are in the process right now of developing our school calendar for next year. Part of the new regulation speaks to increased instructional time.”

The changes are something school officials have talked about for a while, Hauk said. Some of the changes come from balancing instructional and non-instructional days — days where teachers teach in the classroom versus administrational or professional development days.

“This is a time now where you need to have the calculator out when you’re figuring things out,” Hauk said. “But, we’ve been working together. We had a calendar committee that involved teachers, administrators and senior administrators to try and put together some options. We want to have our time with our students. If we can use the time wisely for increasing our instructional time, I think we can really help students out.”

In a statement released by the Saskatchewan School Board Association supporting the province’s new regulation, SSBA president Janet Foord said the current achievement levels of Saskatchewan students rank seventh out of the 10 Canadian provinces.

“This is not acceptable,” Foord said. “Together with the government, school boards are committed to improving this result. Those who make the argument that it is ‘quality of instruction’ versus ‘quantity of instruction’ are mistaken. The two are not mutually exclusive.”

The changes, according to education minister Russ Marchuk in a recent press release, will help ensure all Saskatchewan students benefit from more consistent instructional hours and will bring the province in line with its western Canadian counterparts.

Nicole Munroe, community school council president at Lakeview Elementary School in Meadow Lake, said she is ready to stand behind what the school chooses to do, but at this point, from the perspective of a parent, she has more questions than answers – primarily around what part of the day schools plan on adding time to.

The new regulation follows concerns raised by the provincial auditor in 2011 about inconsistencies between school divisions throughout the province with respect to hours spent in the classroom.

School divisions are required to submit their calendar year plans (incorporating the new changes and with classes scheduled to start after Labour Day and end by June 30) to the Ministry of Education by May 1.

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