Heated exchange at elementary school over extended hours

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A heated debate Tuesday night with parents shouting at times as officials explained the controversial move to extend the day by an hour at 50 Duval County Public Schools.

"I'm frustrated because this affects my child," said Shannon Kubisiak. "This is the wrong decision for my child and my child's school!'

Kubisiak was among about 100 parents that filled a room at Holiday Hill Elementary, looking for an explanation as to why their little ones will have to tackle an additional hour of schooling.

Related: Extended School Hours for Duval - First Coast News

"This is a blanket fix for a bigger problem," said Kubisiak.

The 300 lowest performing elementary schools in reading in Florida have been mandated to add the additional time. That includes 39 schools in DCPS. 11 additional elementary schools have been recommended by the district to be included in the extended hour program based on reading proficiency and reading gains, among them is Holiday Hill.

"But the problem is not a lack of reading instruction," said Kubisiak. "The problem is we have had five principals in the last four years."

A lack of consistency the mother of two believes is the main issue at Holiday Hill. Among the concerns that echoed through a packed room at the elementary school Tuesday night included parents worried about their children having extra homework, a lack of sleep, and students being hungry by the end of the day.

"These are kids," said Idris Musah. His daughter is in the third grade at Holiday Hill. "After a while they might not have the concentration they need to study."

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the district will provide snacks for students during the added hour, and homework issues should be addressed in individual schools among teachers and principals.

Ultimately after nearly two hours of questions, demands and pleas, Vitti announced parents will have the option to exempt their child from the extra hour program.

At this point the choice to opt-out has only been offered at Holiday Hill. But there are meetings scheduled at all of the 50 schools.

Click here for a list of dates and times for those meetings.


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