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Gibbs High considers longer school day

ST. PETERSBURG — Gibbs High School is considering adding another hour to the end of the school day in an effort to move the F-rated school off the list of the state's poorest performing.

The terms of the extended day — how teachers will be paid for the additional time and more — still need to be negotiated between the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association and the school district.

But Gibbs principal Kevin Gordon said the plan the school is proposing at the moment involves keeping all students at the school an hour later, some for study hall or tutoring, some for reading or science intervention, some for electives and some for dual-enrollment classes for college credit.

"We want it to be beneficial to all kids," Gordon said.

Kim Black, president of the PCTA, said she has a number of concerns about the proposal, including worries that district administrators have been "direct dealing" with school staff members about the terms of their pay for the extra time.

"Any type of negotiations have to go through the union," Black said. "It's not a state-run school yet, and we don't want the state to take over Gibbs. And until that time, state statute says the employees have the right to a collectively bargained agreement."

Superintendent Julie Janssen said she did tell teachers she planned to pay them 15 percent more for their time, but that she couched it as requiring negotiation.

"I had to make it very clear to them that we were very understanding about the work they would be doing," she said.

It is unclear how long it will be until the revised schedule will be hammered out and enacted. Besides affecting schedules and teacher pay, it will require transportation changes — always a touchy subject in this 104,000-student school district.

During Gibbs' open house last week, Gordon asked parents for their cooperation in the new schedule change: "We have to do this extended day," he said. "The state says so."

Two weeks ago, the state Department of Education placed Gibbs on "intervene" status, a short list of schools statewide that haven't demonstrated sufficient improvement on the FCAT over a period of five years. The designator comes with rules, including additional instructional time.

Gordon solicited input from parents about the extended day using a short one-question paper survey, asking them how they would most like the school to serve their children during the extra hour. The options included dual enrollment, credit recovery, peer tutoring, study hall and tutoring, reading assistance, and preparation for Advanced Placement classes and the SAT and ACT.

Janssen said she'd like to meet with Black and Gibbs employees this week and hopes for the new plan to be in place within 10 days of reaching a union agreement.

Black said teachers need to know more about what is expected of them under the new arrangement.

"It's like hiring someone to mow your yard," she said. "Don't you think you should tell people the size of the yard before you tell them what you plan to pay them?"

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or rcatalanello@sptimes.com.

Gibbs High considers longer school day 09/04/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 4, 2010 5:30am]
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