Balsz School District blazes trail for more class - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Balsz School District blazes trail for success story of more class time

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PHOENIX -

Do kids do better in school if they spend more time in class? School officials in five states think so. They're following the lead of a school district in Phoenix that's already doing it -- and it's paying off.

Schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee are adding 300 hours of time to the school year.

The Balsz Elementary School District in Phoenix extended its school year four years ago. It's now a model for the rest of the country.

This is Beth Lewis' 6th grade class at Griffith Elementary School, located near 44th Street and McDowell in Phoenix.

They're working on math.

"We are doing percents, how to figure out percents from numbers that don't equal one hundred," says student Colynn Harvey.

Most students go to school 180 days a year. These students go 200 days. 20 more days -- that's four full school weeks.

"I like it because we have more days to learn," says student Ben Denton.

"Do you ever feel like you aren't getting enough of a vacation?" we asked.

"No!"

Teachers say more school pays off.

"I remember being young and getting back into school and there were so many cobwebs in my head," says teacher Beth Lewis. "I think with the 6-week summer there is not a lot of time to forget."

Four years ago Balsz School District was an under performing school district, but then came the changes and the expanded calendar, and since then the situation has improved dramatically. The schools district-wide got a B grade, and Griffith Elementary got an A.

Balsz has blazed a trail for other school districts.

"We are very proud of having made that bold move for our community which has embraced this opportunity for extra learning," says Chris Canelake, Balsz School District.

Teachers in the district are paid a little more to work the extra days.

They like the program. They say it keeps kids busy and they learn better and more consistently than they do in summer school.

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