NEWPORT NEWS Hundreds of Newport News students could face a big schedule change next school year.

The School Board may eliminate the two-hour early dismissal on Wednesdays for elementary students and early childhood centers.

'It makes sense for students to have more instructional time, to make sure they learn what they need to learn.' Spokesperson Michelle Price adds that five elementary schools don't have state accreditation. Carver Elementary, Horace H. Epes Elementary, Newsome Park Elementary, Sedgefield Elementary, and Willis A. Jenkins Elementary are all falling behind state standards.

Additionally, the move would save about a half-million dollars in transportation costs. The district is looking for ways to trim spending because of an estimated $12 million budget shortfall.

Early dismissal was started to give teachers more planning time and to give students an opportunity to take part in after-school activities.

The change would affect 23 elementary schools and four early childhood centers. This week, teachers will attend meetings to learn about the schedule switch proposal. Price says the idea will not move forward, until teachers have a chance to speak out. 'They're hoping the teachers will help draft the plan, and we will still work in planning time for teachers.'

The school district will seek parental input if and when the proposal moves forward. The first step is to gather input from the teachers, officials explained.

Any change has to be approved by the School Board.

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