School days extended at 11 HISD schools due to Hurricane Harvey

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School days will grow longer for students at 11 Houston Independent School District campuses after the Board of Education voted Thursday night to extend school days to stay in compliance with state law.

The next step is for the Texas Education Agency to grant Houston ISD nine disaster waivers for classes missed from Aug. 28 to Sept. 8 due to Hurricane Harvey. If okayed by TEA, HISD students will likely not have to make up those days during the coming school year, but a handful of schools opening in the coming two weeks will need to make up time.

Superintendent Richard Carranza said the district had three options to comply with the state law: cut short already planned holidays, tack days on to the end of the school year or lengthen the school day.

“There is no perfect situation,” Carranza said. “But we are also very committed to make sure the additional time required for students won’t just be seat time. We’re going to have enrichment activities and teachers informed in trauma pedagogy.”

The lengthened school days will only be in effect for the fall semester. Students at all schools will be on regular schedules beginning in 2018.

The item, which was approved on a 7-1 vote with one abstention, will also eliminate five early-release days for all Houston ISD campuses and allow the district to send the missed-day waivers to the state. It also provided $2 million to pay teachers and school support staff at the 11 schools for the extra time they’ll spend at work. That $2 million will come out of the districts reserve funds, which held about $308 million at the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year for emergencies

Texas statute mandates students receive 75,600 minutes of instruction per year. To comply, students attending four schools scheduled to open on Sept. 18 will attend class for an additional 25 minutes. Those schools are Mitchell Elementary; Key Middle; and Bellaire and Northside high schools.

Students attending seven schools set to resume classes on Sept. 25 will have 55 minutes added to their day. Those schools are Braeburn, Hilliard, Kolter, Roland P. Harris and Scarborough elementary; Forest Brook Middle; and Liberty High.

Trustee Mike Lunceford, the only trustee to vote against elongating the school year, put forward an amendment that would allow the six elementary schools that will have longer school days to spread those extra minutes out over the entire school year rather than just during the first semester. District staff said spreading…

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