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5/14/2013 10:42:00 AM
Williams schools to move to one afternoon bus run
Williams-Elementary Middle School Principal Bryan Lords (left) and Williams High School Principal Tristan Heisley discuss next year's schedules at the May 8 governing board meeting.
Williams-Elementary Middle School Principal Bryan Lords (left) and Williams High School Principal Tristan Heisley discuss next year's schedules at the May 8 governing board meeting.

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


Williams elementary, middle and high school students will get out of school within a 10-minute span next year, allowing the district to make one afternoon bus run.

Williams High School (WHS) principal Tristan Heisley and Williams Elementary-Middle School (WEMS) principal Bryan Lords presented bell schedules at the May 8 governing board meeting. The schedules were not an action item, since the board typically does not take action on release times and bus schedules.

Currently the high school gets out at 4 p.m. Next year the high school schedule will go from 8 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. The length of the six class periods will be 65 minutes, which is five minutes shorter than this year's class periods. With 144 days of school, that brings the total instructional time to 156 hours per class, which is 33 hours higher than the minimum state requirement. Lunch will be five minutes longer.

Currently the elementary school gets out at 3 p.m. and the middle school gets out at 4 p.m. Next year the elementary and middle school schedule will go from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The length of the seven class periods for middle school students will be 58 minutes, which is two minutes shorter than this year's class periods. With 144 days of school, that brings the total instructional time to 1,044 hours, which is six days higher than the minimum state requirement. Lunch will be one minute shorter.

This year the buses run twice in the afternoon because of the different release times. Next year, at the end of the day the buses will pick up the high school students first and then pick up the middle and elementary school students for one bus run. All students already ride the bus together in the mornings going to school.

Lords said Flagstaff Medical Center's Fit Kids of Arizona program, which will start in the fall, will help split up the longer day for younger students. The program includes 20 minutes per day of structured exercise and 20 minutes per day of health education for kindergarten through fifth-graders.

"Next year it will be 45 minutes longer but they'll have that 40 minutes in there of Fit Kids somewhere throughout the day so it'll break it up a little bit more," he said. "They'll have art, they'll have music, they'll have P.E., and then they'll also have Fit Kids. So it'll be broken up quite a bit."

Governing Board member Bud Parenteau said he wants all of the buses to have cameras, which several people suggested if all students were to ride the bus together.

Williams Unified School District Superintendent (WUSD) Rachel Savage said all buses would have cameras by the start of the coming school year.

Resident Patty Lucas expressed concern about younger students needing snacks during a longer school day.

"My granddaughter is in kindergarten. She eats lunch at 10:45 in the morning," she said. "So that would mean the kindergartners are going five hours without any sort of substance."

Lords said the district has a produce grant next year for kindergarten through eighth grade students that will allow the school to give out fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks between 2 and 2:30 p.m.

Board president David Nenne said the schedules sounded good.

"Let's just keep an eye on it and see how it's working out and if we need to make a course correction halfway through the year or something let's not be afraid to do that," he said.

During the call to the public portion of the meeting, students Miranda Mann and Clint Mann discussed the future of Spanish and technology classes at the high school. Miranda, who is a junior, said she took technology classes all through middle school.

"It really helped me so that I know how to do projects like PowerPoint projects and typing up papers, and just things like that that I think are really important for middle schoolers to have, and I hope that they still will have next year and for years to come so that they'll be prepared when they come into high school," she said.

Miranda also said she learned a lot from her Spanish classes this year and last year.

"I would not be able to learn from a computer that well, especially not for learning another language," she said.

Clint, who will be a freshman next year, agreed.

"I know that when I was learning Spanish classes in the middle school, it was a lot better learning it from a teacher, and I really hope that is implemented in the classes in the high school," he said.

WUSD Business Manager Melissa Ellico said after the meeting that the district will start using the Rosetta Stone computer program for several languages in the fall, in addition to one face to face Spanish class.

In other governing board news, board members unanimously approved a budget revision that will increase the budget by $246,044.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Article comment by: Mike Forester

Well, they asked for an override and then didn't renew a $95,000 grabt that helped the kids and community. they promised no cut in programs if the override passed and they are cutting middle school technology and going to offer Spanish by computer. Trying NOT to allow their own employees to even apply for other job openings.... Keeping kids in every decision rings hollow to me.



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