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SAU 19 lengthens Goffstown school days to make up for snow closings

GOFFSTOWN — Students will be in school 30 minutes longer per day to make up for this winter’s snow days. But school could be out for summer a little bit earlier, and many parents are pleased about the decision.

The school day for all schools in Goffstown, New Boston and Dunbarton will be extended by 30 minutes beginning April 7 through the end of the school year, with 15 minutes added at the beginning of the day and 15 minutes at the end of the day.

The School Board made the decision after working out logistics, school bus schedules and notifying staff and constituents, said Superintendent Brian Balke. The change was made with the cooperation of the AREA school districts.

So far, SAU 19 has had five snow days, and by lengthening the school day, students will make up four snow days. The last day of school is now scheduled for Friday, June 20, which is an early release day. However, if schools are closed additional days due to weather or unanticipated events, that date could change. If the district had not extended the school day, students would have been in class until June 26.

“My concern remains that historically we’ve had issues with flooding and excessive rains causing flooding. The rivers are full of ice, and with melting, we have the potential of significant flooding in Goffstown and New Boston,” Balke said.

Letters notifying parents of the extended school days went home with students on Tuesday.

Kristie Curtis, whose son, Eli, is a third-grader at Bartlett Elementary School, said she was in favor of the SAU’s decision.

“It makes a lot of sense for kids to be able to get out and have a full summer, rather than being in school with no air-conditioning and a heat wave,” said Curtis, who works at Crispin’s House Coalition for Youth. “My husband drops my son off in the morning, so for me it won’t make a big difference in the morning or afternoon. I don’t see it as a huge inconvenience. It’s worth it; that’s the bottom line.”

Curtis said she had heard about the possibility that spring vacation would be canceled, and she’s glad that’s not the case.

“I think that’s the best decision to avoid that,” she said.

Melanie Roussel, who has children at Bartlett Elementary School and Mountain View Middle School, said although students might not be happy about the school-day extension, they’ll appreciate it when they get out of school for the summer a few days sooner.

“It’s fantastic. A few parents have been asking why can’t we do that, so I think it’s great,” said Roussel.

Parent Ryan Simmons also said he is in favor of the decision.

“It’s a great idea. Kids going in and getting out earlier will get them out of school for the summer earlier,” he said.

The last time the SAU extended the school day was during the 2008-09 school year, Balke said.

Alicia Urella, who works as a counselor at the YMCA Allard Center, remembers when her school day was extended in spring 2009.

“When I was in the eighth grade at Mountain View, they did it. I didn’t like it much,” she said.

While she understands the SAU’s decision, her work schedule will be affected because she will lose 15 minutes of time in the morning and in the afternoon because students will be in school.

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