A longer school day might be in the future for middle school students.
The possibility of going from six to seven periods each school day was raised Tuesday night at a Board of Education meeting. The topic came up during a discussion of San Francisco Unified School District’s new school-assignment process.
Adding an extra period would mean sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders would be in class nearly an hour longer each day.
Increasing the school day does come with a price, however.
According to Board of Education Commissioner Jill Wynns, the district had a seventh period for middle schools nearly 10 years ago, but the idea was scrapped because of the cost.
She estimated the district would pay nearly $3 million per grade per year. District officials did not have an exact cost estimate, but said they are working on operating projections.
“The biggest issue is the cost issue,” Wynns said.
The school district is revamping the process for determining which schools students will attend. In the past, kids in The City have not been able to automatically go to schools in their own neighborhoods because of a 1983 court desegregation order. As a result, students were bused all over The City to attend classes — even after the court order expired in 2005.
But in March, the school board voted to overhaul the enrollment system and now is figuring out how to implement the changes.
Ideally, district officials want parents of elementary school students to know which middle schools they will attend years in advance.
The hitch is that language programs at many elementary schools are not available at all middle schools. The district currently offers six foreign languages at 38 elementary and nine middle schools. In order to make up the difference, the language programs would need to expand into more middle schools and potentially require longer school days, officials said.
Three of the district’s 15 middle schools already offer a seventh period to allow for tutoring and enrichment. The extra period at those schools is paid for by state school-improvement funding.
Ellie Rossiter, the executive director of Parents for Public Schools, said as a parent, the extra period is ideal.
“At James Lick, we have it and it works well,” Rossiter said. “But we also have funding for it. As an educator, it’s a policy decision that would probably mean a lot of changes.”
District officials expect to present a recommendation to the Board of Education at its Feb. 1 committee meeting. The adopted assignment process for middle schools is expected to be implemented for the 2012-13 school year.