IS THERE A BETTER WAY?
The Murfreesboro Schools in Tennessee may have the most comprehensive extended-day and -year program in the United States. In 1986, Murfreesboro decided that community concern about latch-key children was strong enough to justify extending the school year. The district announced that one elementary school would be open from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. with parents paying for the extended-day services. Four students showed up. Within two years, public demand forced the extension of the concept to every elementary school in the city. This year, 50 percent of the city's 5,000 elementary school students can be found in the program on any given day, all on a voluntary basis on the part of parents.
Plans are now well advanced to open Murfreesboro's first K-8 year-round school in August 1994. Parental freedom of choice will determine enrollment. Distinguishing between the "school day," "educational services," and "extended school services," the school will offer educational services from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and extended services before school from 6:00 a.m. and after school until 7:00 p.m. Extended services will be available five days a week, 52 weeks a year. Interim sessions will offer 40 extra days of academic time.
Parents choosing to take advantage of educational services for their children after 3:00 p.m. (or during the 40 days) will pay a small fee, as will parents opting for extended services. Students directed by school personnel to attend supplementary classes will do so at district expense. Murfreesboro expects to accomplish all of this within its regular per-pupil expenditures figures. Mayor Joe Jackson bridles at the suggestion that extended services undermine the family: "You've got it exactly backwards," he responds. "These services support the family by making it possible for people to work without worrying because they know their children are involved in constructive learning."
Developing a New Generation of Scientists, Scholars, and Leaders "Year-Round Education"