Longer school day coming to more Fresno campuses

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thousands of Fresno Unified students will start the new school year with a longer day.

Teachers at Slater Elementary School spent the day making last-minute preparations for the 2015-16 school year. Teachers' websites are up and running, and the desks are organized and ready. This year, some students in Fresno will be sitting in those desks a little longer.

"I love it. I love it because we get 30 minutes extra each day, and when you actually accumulate it that's 18 extra days," teacher Michael Robinson said.

After taking a look at how 10 schools fared with a longer school day, Fresno Unified officials decided that 20 more elementary schools will have 30 minutes extra of instructional time. Students will instead be dismissed at 2:35 p.m. and kindergarteners at 1:35 p.m.

Slater Elementary School Principal Kelli Wilkins says they found the additional school time benefitted teacher's instruction. "It benefitted the collaboration that teams themselves had together and as a result it impacted student achievement," she said.

Wilkins says they even had numbers to match the success of a longer day. "That school nearly doubled the amount of kids proficient in language arts and tripled the amount of kids that were proficient in math," she said.

Parents like Nichole Vargas are thrilled. Her daughter is set to start kindergarten on Monday, and she hopes the extra time will help her get more of the school day. Vargas said, "I love it. I love that they have longer days to just pack inside. Before it was just three hours, and you could only do so much, and now they just have your full attention and pack more in and learn."

Next year, Fresno Unified will implement longer school days at 10 more elementary schools.
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