It’s a mystery: How does a school district that invariably has the highest (or close to it) per-student costs in the region also have the lowest amount of instructional time in a typical school year?
Whatever the historical reasons for that anomaly, Arlington school officials are hoping to rectify the last half of that equation.
School Board members in May will be asked to approve changes to the school system’s bell schedule that, depending on the option finally put forward for action, could add up to 10 minutes of instructional time in the school day.
That will bring Arlington up to par with some neighboring school districts, although won’t vault the county to the lead.
Virginia law requires school systems to hold classroom instruction for a minimum of 180 days and/or 990 hours. Superintendent Francisco Durán acknowledged that, currently, “we do have the least amount of [instructional] minutes of our surrounding school systems.”
“We certainly don’t want to be the least,” the superintendent told School Board members on March 24.
Whether students actually will get any additional instruction out of those additional instructional minutes, however, is not a sure thing. Buried in the fine print is that those 10 extra minutes per day will add up to five additional days – time that the school system could use as days off due to inclement weather or other factors.
The final staff proposal will go to School Board members on April 28, with action slated for May 12. For information, see the Website at www.apsva.us/engage/bell-study-project.