ROCK FALLS – Students will spend some additional time in the classroom during the upcoming school year.
When school starts in a couple of weeks, students at Merrill and Dillon Elementary schools will be in class for an additional 15 minutes each day.
Students will begin school at 8:40 a.m. and be dismissed at 3:20 p.m. Last year, students were at school from 8:45 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.
Students at Rock Falls Middle School also will be in class longer. Like last year, students will start school at 8:05 a.m. However, students will be dismissed at 2:55 p.m. instead of 2:45.
“We have the shortest day of all the other surrounding school districts,” said Dan Arickx, superintendent of the Rock Falls Elementary School District. “We monitored different aspects of the school and compared it to other schools, and it’s obvious that our day is shorter.”
Elementary students will now be at school for 6 hours and 40 minutes. Last year, they were there for 6 hours and 25 minutes.
To put that into perspective, students at Franklin Elementary School in Sterling are at school for 6 hours and 45 minutes. Students in Jefferson Elementary School in Sterling are in school for 6 hours and 50 minutes.
Washington Elementary School students in the Dixon School District are in class for 6 hours and 30 minutes.
The additional school hours also are needed for state-mandated response to intervention, which is designed to help students with learning and behavior needs.
“We want to allow more time for RTI and more time for students to get homework done at school,” Arickx said.
In the additional time, students will also be able to work with an RTI teacher, which will help students who have difficulty learning. RTI teachers will work with struggling students in smaller groups and help them with their school work.
“We will have one in each building,” Arickx said.
RTI is one of several initiatives the state has mandated over the years.
“It was hard to find time for all that,” Arickx said.
Arickx believes the extra time should have a positive impact on the students.
“Students will have more time to ask teachers questions about their homework instead of doing it at home,” he said. “It’s a little longer day, but hopefully, it will help out at home as well.”