Revere School officials and Mayor Brian Arrigo welcomed Speaker Bob DeLeo and State Rep. RoseLee Vincent to the Garfield Middle School (GMS) on Monday to discuss the renewal of the school’s Extended Learning Time (ELT) grant and the restoration of full funding for the program.
The GMS joins the Whelan School and the Hill School – both elementary schools – as the only schools in the district with ELT programs. ELT is a state-funded program that provides state grants to school districts so that schools can plan for and implement a longer school day. Typically, teachers get increased salaries and students get longer class times and more elective classes.
Revere was one of the first districts to jump on the program some years ago, but Supt. Dianne Kelly said this week during the visit that their grant is running out.
“As the funding was cut to increases for cost of living, there wasn’t enough funding to support that program,” she said. “We were able to find the money this year, but next year may be different. To do that, I am taking money away from the other schools to support the ELT schools. I have a problem doing that, so we are really calling on the state to restore that funding that was lost.”
Principal Samantha Meier guided the contingent through several classrooms, where students were busy writing computer code for web design and others were working on designing their own utopian societies.
Students at the GMS are able to have longer class times, going for 70-minute blocks instead of 45-minute blocks.
“With the longer blocks of time, teachers are really able to get the kids focused and they have more time to work on a task,” said Meier. “With 45 minute periods, once the kids get in and settled down, and the assignment is explained, there is only 15 minutes left until you have to leave again. The kids really engage better with the material.”
Emily Woodman said she enjoyed being able to take elective courses that normally wouldn’t be offered to middle school students.
“I think it’s cool we get to learn more about different things,” she said. “In sixth grade, we got to learn about financial literacy, banking and starting a business. Then, with the money we earned, we were able to buy things at the Middle School auction. I think it’s amazing we get to have that with our extra time.”
Student Michael Martorony said he enjoys the ELT because it allows him to get most of his homework done at school, allowing more time to enjoy family life.
“With extended blocks, you have more time to get your work done and your parents have time to get their work done and you get to enjoy more time with your family and loved ones,” he said.
There are more than 30 electives for GMS students to take, and students get two electives per day.
“The most valuable aspect of ELT is the electives part,” said teacher Tyler Arlington. “It’s real life career skills they’re learning. It’s hard to measure because there isn’t state exams to measure it, but I can tell you I’ve seen how incredibly valuable it is.”
Added Kelly, “It helps to develop relationship in the middle school. These are the kinds of things that prevent kids from dropping out of school…That elective class here in middle school could be enough to keep them coming and get through the school day because of that one class they really like. Without ELT, we can’t give them that little nugget of interest to keep them from thinking about dropping out.”
DeLeo and Vincent said they had been won over by the discussion, but they had an entire Legislative body to win over.
The matter will be taken up in the coming months during the State Budget process.
School and state officials discuss the ELT grant during a roundtable discussion on Monday morning at the Garfield Middle School. Pictured, L-R, State Rep. RoseLee Vincent, Speaker Bob DeLeo, Mayor Brian Arrigo, Supt. Dianne Kelly, Mayoral Assistant Joe Gravellese, School Committeewoman Susan Gravellese and School Committeewoman Carol Tye.
GMS Principal Samantha Meier, Supt. Dianne Kelly, Speaker Bob DeLeo and State Rep. RoseLee Vincent take a tour of the GMS.
Speaker Bob DeLeo, State Rep. RoseLee Vincent and Principal Samantha Meier listen intently to a student presentation on utopian societies.
Students Gabriella Barroso, Narolyn Molina Lainer, and Unique Arriaga testify about their positive experience with ELT at the Garfield.
Teacher Erin Lane speaks about having more time to collaborate with other teachers while Tyler Arlington and Julie Venditti listen.
The full contingent of City, School and State officials gather for a photo at the conclusion of the tour.