Parents support extended school time

Some parents at underachieving schools believe the school board's decision to give students more education time will help those who struggle — and could benefit their own children.

The school board voted Tuesday to extend the school day, and year for students reading two or more grade levels below their own to help bring them up to grade-level proficiency.

"I actually think it's a really good idea because I think the more help they can get the better," said Romelia Bellah, whose sixth-grade daughter attends Pomona Elementary School.

The board approved principals' requests to add up to two hours to the school day and extend the school year by adding a four-hour a day, 20-day summer camp for students in grades 4-10 at Estancia and Costa Mesa high schools.

The board is putting $1.1 million into Program Improvement schools for curriculum replacement and staff development in addition to the extended school day and year.

Costa Mesa and Estancia, TeWinkle Middle School and Adams, College Park, Rea, Killybrooke, Paularino, Pomona, Whittier and Wilson elementary schools received the Program Improvement label after missing annual progress benchmarks required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act for two consecutive years.

"I think this is good for them," said Mireya Estrada, whose son is in the fourth grade at Rea.

Bellah said her daughter, who reads at a ninth-grade level, isn't the board's target, but she wouldn't hesitate to give her the extra time if she needed it.

"I would absolutely love the fact that this is available, and I would absolutely have her involved," she said.

Paularino mother Amy Lewis said she thinks the summer camp will help students be more prepared for the next school year, but schools also need more staff — a teacher just can't handle so many kids in a classroom.

"I think if they do smaller groups with the teacher it will probably be better," she said.

Paularino mother Maria Gutierrez said existing programs, specifically Lexia, helped her first-grade daughter improve her reading. Still, she thinks the extended day and year would help others, and she wouldn't mind her daughter staying late or attending school during the summer for some extra learning time.

"I think that would be good," she said. "That would help a lot."

Edward Soto, who has a second-grade daughter at Rea, said he believes more time will bring struggling students up to a grade-appropriate reading level, but the key to student learning is parent involvement.

"It all begins with the parents at home," he said. "That's the most important thing."

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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