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Tulsa Public Schools Consider Expanded Middle School Hours

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The extended hours program is intense but shows results, experts say. The extended hours program is intense but shows results, experts say.
Tulsa Public Schools met earlier this week to discuss extended hours for middle schoolers. Tulsa Public Schools met earlier this week to discuss extended hours for middle schoolers.
Sixth grader Da'Sha Morton says the extended hours program keeps kids focused on school. Sixth grader Da'Sha Morton says the extended hours program keeps kids focused on school.

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

Educators believe more class time In the form of a longer school day may be the answer to some of the problems at Tulsa middle schools.

TPS is considering applying for a federal grant that would allow it to add 300 hours to the school year at some schools. Educators say the formula is simple: more hours in the classroom will produce more quality students.

The Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP, is now in its fifth year. The middle school takes students, many of whom have lagged behind in other schools, and puts them in the classroom from 7:30 in the morning until 5 in the evening.

There's also class on Saturday's twice a month, as well as summer school. It's intense, but teachers and students say the results are unmistakable.

"I believe in the extended school day, I believe our students can climb that mountain to college, and I wanted to be a part of that," says Dr. Nicole Petty, KIPP Teacher.

Da'Sha Morton, KIPP 6th Grader, says "It gives (kids) that go here and me less focused on the TV, or eating candy or doing something they have no business doing."

Educators from the National Center on Time and Learning were in town Wednesday to pitch a similar program. If Tulsa applies the program, federal dollars would be used to extend the school day at three middle schools for at least three years.

"They will provide opportunities that will impact them during the day and enrichment activities afterwards. It's really an exciting program," said Dr. Keith Ballard, TPS superintendent.

At a time when cuts dominate the headlines, TPS feels extended time would be one positive addition to the system. KIPP says the extra time and extra work, pays off.

"Anything we can do to make sure our students are successful in high school, college and the competitive world beyond, let's do it. Whatever it takes," said Darius Kirk, KIPP Principal.  

If Tulsa is selected for the Extended Learning Time program, the extra hours would be added to the school year in the beginning of 2010.

Related Story 11/18/2009: Tulsa Schools May Add Hours To Middle School Schedules

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