Lazar Middle School Day Could End Earlier
Montville BOE to research whether beginning and ending the school day earlier would be beneficial to students, faculty members.
Based on the suggestions of the public and a taskforce of school district leaders and parents, the Montville Township Board of Education will be exploring whether moving up the hours students attend the Robert R. Lazar Middle School would better suit the students.
The suggestion to make the school day begin and end earlier was made last year during board of education meetings. It was also included in the recommendations formed by a homework taskforce that considered ways to improve the way the district gives homework to make it more conducive to student productivity.
As the board of education has been developing its goals for the upcoming year over the past several meetings, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Fried said conducting the research on the Lazar school time change is one of the priorities of this year.
Currently, Fried said the school day is from 8:50 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. for students.
"It's a burden on the middle school kids to get out so late and to then have, oftentimes, an activity or sport to go to and then have to do homework after that," Fried said.
Research will consider whether changing to a 7:30 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. school day would be more beneficial for students, although those times could also be adjusted. Fried said the high school operates under those hours and if both the middle school and Montville Township High School hours were the same, teachers and administrators would be on similar schedules and be able to meet together more often.
"Instructionally, the benefit to have our high school and middle school with the same starting and ending times would mean that we could easily bring together our departments," he said.
Fried said this would help with professional development opportunities and also for educators in both buildings to be able to share ideas more easily.
"It's a way for us to better coordinate instruction and curriculum across both buildings," he said.
In the future, Fried said adjusting the time to end the Lazar school day earlier could also open up the possibility to create a middle school sports program.
"We would end earlier in the afternoon when many other middle schools end and we could be part of a scheduled league," Fried said. "It gives you the option to consider it."
But Fried said the consideration of middle school sports is much further down the road, as the costs of implementing such a program would also need to be addressed.
Board of Education President Dr. Karen Cortellino said she feels that the time change for Lazar is an issue that has been in the minds of community members and board members for several years.
"I believe most would agree that an earlier dismissal would benefit the middle school students," she said. "Suggested solutions that involve altering the times at other school levels have been met with mixed community support."
Cortellino noted that the costs associated with the school times and changing them is an important factor in the decision.
"This year, we have devoted a district goal to studying solutions that can be supported by the community and maintain fiscal responsibly," she said.
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