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Focus 2018: Parents voice concerns about proposed school day length

In reference to Focus 2018, parents voiced their concerns about the proposed school day length. // WSBT 22 Photo

As parents get familiar with South Bend's plans to reorganize schools, a big issue for many of them is the changes to the school day schedule.

Only a handful of people turned out Wednesday to discuss the Focus 2018 plan.

They're concerned about what schedule changes will do to their kids.

For some, making sure students have enough time to eat lunch or get their homework done is really important. A common theme for most parents is that changing schedule. Simply put, they don't want it.

As the small crowd at Nuner Primary School learned about Focus 2018, some parents say they're nervous about how the changes will impact their kids.

School leaders tried to assure them, education is consistent throughout the district.

"A great deal of what we worked on this particular summer and this school year is consistency of our curricular areas and really looking at consistency across grade levels and across schools, and so a focus on academics is the same from one school to the next," said Kay Antonelli, assistant superintendent for curriculum.

The biggest issue was the length of school days.

Sarah Kelly says her son is going to have a hard time with the extra 55 minutes Focus 2018 proposes.

"My biggest concern is that he has to stay at school for a longer period of time. With his needs, he starts to go downhill at around 2:30," said Kelly-Devos.

Parents say it not only impacts the students. It also affects their work day.

"We both work that nine to five, eight to five areas where we have to be at work when the kids have to be in school at the same time," said Edward Thomas, who has children in South Bend Community School Corporation (SBCSC).

As the clock begins to wind down on the "Let's Talk Tours", parents are hoping other families get involved before Focus 2018 is voted on.

"It's one thing to talk about it and sit in at the work table and say ‘Hey do you know what's going on in south bend schools?’ But it's another thing to be here and for your voice to be heard," said Keya Young, who has children in SBCSC.

The school board also explained to parents that they have before and after school programs.

Parents say that's an extra expense for them that doesn't work in the budget.

Now the last "Let's Talk Tour" will be held at Darden Primary a week from Wednesday. The school board will then vote on Focus 2018 December 18.

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