August 27, 2011 in City

Rogers gets jump on school year

Two days tacked onto start date help fulfill grant requirement
By The Spokesman-Review
Map of this story's location
School start dates

Wednesday – Cheney and Deer Park school districts

Sept. 6 – Spokane Public Schools (except Rogers High School); Mead School District; Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls school districts

Sept. 7 – Central Valley, West Valley and East Valley school districts

Sept. 12 – Medical Lake School District

Students attending Rogers High School might be groaning a little louder than other Spokane teens about the fast-approaching school year. That’s because they start earlier than any other high school in the region’s largest district.

Additionally, each school day has been extended by 30 minutes.

Rogers won a three-year, $4 million federal grant earlier this year, with the stipulation that the school add 100 hours to its academic year. Administrators decided that starting the year early, on Thursday, and adding 30 minutes to the day will accomplish that goal best, rather than adding an hour to each school day.

“I think to a certain degree the students feel a little ripped off, but most of them like school,” said Lori Wyborney, Rogers High School principal. “I’m banking on a majority of them showing up.”

This is the first time in at least 20 years a single high school in Spokane Public Schools will start before the others, school officials said.

Rogers was one of six schools in Washington – and about 200 nationwide – to be awarded the competitive School Improvement Grant, according to state officials who administer the federal grant. The money will be used to improve on-time graduation and standardized test scores.

The school will receive $1.5 million in the first year of the grant; $1.3 million for 2012-’13 and $900,000 for 2013-’14. An additional administrator has been hired to monitor the grant. Other employees have also been hired as a result of the grant, including a math specialist who will work with students at schools that feed into Rogers as well as freshmen and sophomores at the high school, and three achievement-gap specialists.

Over the past three years, the school has improved attendance rates and behavior and academic records, and officials say the grant will help keep up the momentum.

Just 50.9 percent of Rogers students graduated on time in 2009. Last year, the on-time graduation rate was 60.1 percent, and it’s expected to jump to 67 percent this school year.

Rogers’ student scores in reading, writing and math were 10 to 20 percentage points below the state average in 2010. As of last spring, the number of students passing state assessments had already improved 13 percentage points in reading over the last year, and 3 percentage points in writing.

There was a 369 percent increase in the number of students passing Advanced Placement tests in 2010-’11.

Students will spend the extra 30 minutes of the school day being tutored; if they’re not receiving instruction they are expected to be reading, writing or both, Wyborney said.

Administrators will monitor student progress once per week, and if a student is failing, he or she will have to attend a seventh-period class until they are back on track.

“It’s going to be busy,” Wyborney said. “But it will be a fun busy, and a busy that brings results.”

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