Originally published Aug. 1, 2017 in The Chronicle, Centralia, Washington

By Pete Caster / pcaster@chronline.com

CentraliaPrimary schools with kindergarten through third-grade students will extend school days by 29 minutes to better match the school day of fourth- through sixth-grade students, while the middle school will be gaining 14 minutes.The new schedule will ensure K-8 students receive the same amount of instructional time.

The move is important as the district moves toward transitioning to K-6 buildings over the next few years when two new elementary schools are constructed to replace Jefferson-Lincoln and Fords Prairie, according to district officials.

Addition of Year-Round Physical Education

The change will allow students at the district’s primary schools access to year-round physical education, bringing the district closer to compliance with the state’s requirements of 100 minutes of PE and health education per week. 

Kristy Vetter, executive director of teaching and learning for the district, said the changes will bring physical education classes to students twice a week, while under the old schedule PE classes were not year round. 

“Doing this switch allows us to do physical education every single week of the year,” Vetter said, adding that studies have shown PE has a positive impact on student’s learning. 

The extended school day will also allow for more instructional time in core classes, such as reading and math. 

Recommended instructional minutes increase intervention times for both subjects. 

It’s a change that teachers have met with enthusiasm, Vetter said, especially since the new schedule guarantees teachers will get 30 minutes of preparation time during the school day.

Ed Petersen, communications and public relations coordinator for the district, said teachers’ contracted hours will not change, so there won’t be a budget impact.

“This adds extra learning time without breaking the bank,” he said. 

According to a memo sent out to staff, principals will work with their respective buildings to adjust schedules and make necessary shifts.

By the end of the year, the additional instructional time will add up to have a big impact on students, Vetter said. 

“Every minute counts, always,” she said. 

The new schedule will affect pickup and dropoff times for students who ride buses. In mid-August, the district will have current information on how the bus routes change. That can be accessed online at www.centralia.k12.wa.us by clicking on “Students and Parents,” and then “Bus Route Information.” Parents can enter an address and school grade to receive estimated pick up and drop off times.

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