Back to the classroom: Gloucester prepares for shortened school year

by Kim Robins - Posted on Sep 01, 2010 - 04:07 PM

The 2010-2011 school year for Gloucester public school students begins Tuesday and it will be a shorter-than-usual academic session. The school year includes 160 days of instruction for students, 20 fewer days than the usual 180-day academic year.

Photo: After college at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and a year of leading educational programs at a North Carolina aquarium, Natalie Brake has returned to her hometown to begin her classroom career. Brake will be teaching language arts and science for fifth graders at T.C. Walker Elementary School.

After college at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and a year of leading educational programs at a North Carolina aquarium, Natalie Brake has returned to her hometown to begin her classroom career. Brake will be teaching language arts and science for fifth graders at T.C. Walker Elementary School.

Trimming instructional days was one cost-cutting measure taken by the Gloucester County School Board as it dealt with a $5 million fiscal year 2011 budget shortfall that was due largely to a reduction in state funding.

The shortened school year is expected to produce a $586,180 savings, about $400,000 of it from reduced compensation for bus drivers, bus assistants, teacher assistants and nurses who will work 20 fewer days. The remaining savings will be realized in reduced fuel and utility costs and reduced costs for substitute personnel. Twelve of the 20 days off are Mondays, contributing to fuel savings as school buildings shut down for three-day weekends. Some of the other days will be used to expand quarterly and mid-semester teacher workdays.

Although they will have 20 fewer days with students, the number of workdays for teachers remains the same. The 20 days without students are designated as professional days which teachers will use for staff development, curriculum development, planning, grading, data analysis, and parent conferences. The days will also be used for student field trips, field days, "Saturday" school discipline and make-up days for instructional time lost to inclement weather.