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Spokane schools preparing elementary students for longer days

Spokane schools preparing elementary students for longer days

Elementary school students in the Spokane school district will soon have longer school days as school officials are adding 30 minutes to each day.

School officials say a longer school day has a significant impact on students as long its filled with meaningful instruction.

This change will give students more time in the classroom and put the Spokane school district in line with the rest of the country.

The district says there are other reasons this is such a good time to make the change. The new schedule gives teachers time to work on common core. Administration at each individual school site will be able to determine how the time will be used.

"It may be an additional math course, additional language arts time, whatever the school principal sees as the most effective use of the time," Kevin Morrison, director of communications with Spokane Public Schools, said.

Students will begin having longer school days in September 2015.

New round of Washington charter proposals begins

Organizations that want to open a charter school in Washington state have until the end of the day on Friday to turn in a form that says they plan to apply to the statewide charter commission.

As of Thursday afternoon, five letters of intent had been posted on the state's charter school website, including some from organizations that had applied during the last round but weren't approved.

The next deadline in the process will be July 15, when formal applications to open a charter school are due. After public forums, interviews and other evaluations, The Charter School Commission plans to vote in October on which schools will be given tentative approval to open.

Schools, first responders preparing for worst case scenarios

Schools, first responders preparing for worst case scenarios

The deadly school shooting in Oregon Tuesday served to reemphasize to local first responders the importance of preparing for active shooter and mass casualty scenarios in our community.

It's not something you want to think about -- a deadly shooting at a school -- but since the mass shootings at Sandy Hook December 2012 there have been 74 school shootings around the country.

It can happen anywhere and at any time and that's why the Spokane Public Schools want to be prepared.

"The reality is it's not a matter of if it comes it's a matter of when it comes," Spokane Police Officer Jay Kernkamp said.

Kernkamp said the police department is preparing for worst case scenarios and to that end this last February they partnered with the fire department to practice how they would respond to a hypothetical active shooter scenario at a school.

"Those types of trainings are unfortunately becoming more and more common so that we can be prepared," he said.

The entire department trains quarterly with specialty teams prepping each week. One of the few things police departments have changed is their response to an incident.

Class of 2014 looks ahead to bright future

 Class of 2014 looks ahead to bright future

Proud friends and family looked on as their Shadle Park graduates received their high school diploma Saturday morning.

Four years of countless tests, Friday night football games and school dances. All now closed chapters in their own history books.

"We thought it was going to do slow like when you come in as a freshman you're like oh my gosh I'm going to be in this high school forever, but it goes so quick," said Olivia Meyers, Shadle Park graduate.

Most of these graduates started kindergarten in 2001. The year when ENRON crashed, Friends was the most watched television show, the Arizona Diamondbacks were World Series Champions, and of course the unforgettable tragedies of 9/11.

The class of 2014 has grown up through some of the worst times the world has seen, but also some of the best.

It's almost parallel to these young adults lives, showing what they are capable of. Their future is in their hands .

For many of these students that future is college.

"I hope it's just as much fun as high school if not way more, and really just get a whole new experience," said Brittany Gately, Shadle Park graduate.

Second Harvest hand out food at elementary schools to help replace school lunch

Second Harvest hand out food at elementary schools to help replace school lunch

Second Harvest is teaming up with Spokane elementary schools to make sure no student goes hungry this summer.

The program focuses on schools where the majority of students are on the free or reduced lunch program.

The concern is that many families who rely on school lunch may not be able to provide that extra meal during the summer months.

"Everyone's budgets are stretched a little thin, especially as summer is approaching with all of the end of school activities and stuff," said volunteer Rhonda Hause. "All the extras really help the families leave happy."

If you would like to donate, the Spokane Food Bank is accepting donations.

Full day kindergarten: One year later

Full day kindergarten: One year later

This year Spokane Public School's youngest learners spent much more time in the classroom. In just a few weeks the district's first year of full-day kindergarten will be over.

Before, 15 of the district's elementary schools had all-day kindergarten. Now, all 34 do.

KXLY visited with kindergarten teacher Beth Calkin at Franklin Elementary as she geared up for the move to full-day. On Wednesday we went back in her classroom to see the progress made with her kids.

"They have come a long, long way," Calkin said.

The kids in her class are almost ready to jump to first grade, but you might think they're already in first grade judging by their progress this year.

"The most exciting thing for me is watching them read and I have some great readers in this class. Some of them came in recognizing a few sight words, but a lot of them came in not even having their letters and sounds connected," said Calkin.

Going from half day to full day was a big change. The school day more than doubled for kindergartens. It also came at a cost of $3 Million since the district had to hire 20 new teachers.

Spokane schools encouraging healthy lifestyles with students and their families

Spokane schools encouraging healthy lifestyles with students and their families

Spokane Public Schools will be adopting a new marketing campaign in the fall called Power Up that is designed to encourage not just students, but the whole family to live a healthy lifestyle.

Doug Wordell is the Director of Nutrition Services at Spokane Public Schools, he said they were working on a phrase that would get kids and their families excited, and Power Up seemed perfect.

With months of work put into advancing their healthy eating mission, the nutrition department will roll out a marketing program this fall.

"It's a nutrition education awareness for great foods, fresh foods, and kids making great selections in schools," said Wordell.

He said they reached out to families to determine what their concerns were.

"We did focus groups with students. and we did parent surveys to talk about, what are their needs," said Wordell.

They are encouraging the whole family to get involved, because it's not enough to just educate the kids.