Students at a downtown Charleston school are looking at a longer school day when they return in the fall, with three hours being added for personalized instruction, music instruction and physical activities such as yoga or soccer.
The Charleston County School District in partnership with the nonprofit Charleston Promise Neighborhood is planning to tack on three hours at Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts School, which serves grades K-8. School will still start at 7:30 a.m. but under the new plan the day will stretch until 5:30 p.m. rather than ending at 2:30 p.m.
LaTisha Vaughn-Brandon, assistant associate superintendent of the school district's Charleston Promise Neighborhood Learning Community, said the longer day will not cost the district more money. Instead, Charleston Promise Neighborhood is raising funds to cover the cost of supplemental pay for teachers and programs.
With the longer day, students will have core instruction from 7:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Core instruction consists of math, science, social studies and language arts as well as subjects like gym, art, music, dance and drama.
Afternoon instruction, which will run from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., will be broken into four different segments. Students will have an hour of personalized learning before having an hour of physical activity.
The last two hours of the day will consist of "enrichment and expansion," which Vaughn-Brandon said could be anything from yoga or karate to a parks and recreation sponsored event. It's likely that students will have several different types of enrichment activities each week, she said.
Offering enrichment to these students - most of whom live in poverty - is key, Vaughn-Brandon said.
The Charleston Promise Neighborhood is a nonprofit organization aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty in a 5.6-square-mile area of Charleston County. The group has targeted four public schools, including Sanders-Clyde, to help improve education and student achievement.
"When we talk about closing the achievement gap we're talking about academics and an opportunity gap," she said, noting that typical afternoon childhood activities of karate, soccer or music lessons are not an option for many students at Sanders-Clyde. "We have a group of students who don't have that same access to those opportunities."
One thing that won't change is the length of time teachers at Sanders-Clyde will work. Vaughn-Brandon said teachers can voluntarily choose between working a first shift or second shift. Core classes will be scheduled based on which shift teachers choose. Teaching staff will be augmented in the afternoon with volunteers and outside staff from other nonprofits and service providers.
Durham School Services, which provides school bus transportation for Charleston County schools, has told the district that picking up the students at 5:30 p.m. instead of 2:30 p.m. won't be a problem, Vaughn-Brandon said. The change in the bus schedule won't cost extra.
Sherrie Snipes-Williams, executive director for Charleston Promise Neighborhood, said the nonprofit is still working to finalize the budget for the expanded school day and could not provide an exact cost.
The group is putting the finishing touches on a new vetting process for partnerships with other nonprofits to come into Sanders-Clyde, Snipes-Williams said. The process will evaluate things like whether an organization has the ability to implement programs and collaborate, and if a group can show they're using data to drive their programming.
Snipes-Williams said requests for proposals from nonprofits should be issued soon.