Thirteen D.C. public schools will offer extended school days next year, using part of a $10 million grant the school system is giving its campuses to boost student achievement through innovation.
Overall, 59 schools are splitting the Proving What's Possible grant money, with most of the $10 million going to DC Public Schools' 40 lowest-performing schools. Ward 8's Stanton Elementary, where less than 10 percent of students can read proficiently, is using its $300,000 grant to start a small academy within the school for struggling students, among other strategies. Ward 7's Kelly Miller Middle School is implementing not just an extended school day, but summer sessions for its students with a $490,000 grant. More than 100 schools submitted 135 applications.
Dunbar Senior High School, C.W. Harris Elementary School and Noyes Education Campus are also among the 13 schools choosing to offer more class time each day, with each school proposing a different timetable for students. Even one of the District's biggest success stories, Ward 1 magnet Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, is getting in on the grant by offering tutoring and homework assistance after normal classes end each day.
Longer school days are the norm in the District's charter schools, which 41 percent of the city's public school students attend. Henderson and Mayor Vincent Gray said Thursday they consider the grant programs "a test run" for potentially moving the entire school system to a longer school day, year or both.
Though the adjustments are voluntary -- parents can opt out of the extra hours -- school leaders believe most children will participate.
"Kids, of course, have reservations for obvious reasons, but parents think it's a good idea," Gray said.
Washington Teachers' Union President Nathan Saunders said that longer days are something teachers at these schools want. "It'll be interesting," Saunders said.
Gray is supporting Henderson's decision to not disclose where the $10 million is coming from. Henderson has acknowledged that she freed up funding by discontinuing unsuccessful school programs, but has refused to name those programs.
"It doesn't serve any purpose to disparage or cast a negative shadow on programs that weren't successful," she said.