990 hours debate continues as students, teachers adjust


Permission Pixabay

The 990 hours requirement by the state caused the elimination of homeroom- a change students and teachers are still transitioning into.

Riley Garand, Staff Writer

Students and teachers are dealing with the elimination of homeroom with the incurred pros and cons, as administrators continue to consider whether it can be reinstated in the future.

Homeroom was removed from the schedule this year to help the school meet the 990 hours of instructional time required in the school year by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“The elimination of homeroom enabled us to ultimately reach 990 hours of instruction time which we are required to do,” Principal Tom Mead said. “That obviously comes at a price.”

According to Assistant Principal Paul DiDomenico, although the increased instruction time is a benefit, there have been some negative effects on students and their timelines to first period.

It was kind of nice to ease into the day when we had homeroom.

— Math teacher Nancy Hart

“We know we have made the bench mark for hours and I think the biggest change [for students and faculty] has been around homeroom,” DiDomenico said. “A discussion [by] our School Based Leadership Team, made up of the administrators and the department chairs, has been around kids being tardy to period one and how difficult that is for teachers.”

Many teachers have struggled with factors involved in the transition of having no homeroom.

“It started a little rough because we didn’t really know how to take attendance electronically and there were some glitches with that, but that’s been more or less figured out, so we’re over that hump,” math teacher Nancy Hart said. “I personally miss the kids that were in my homeroom and I have run into them. They have said they have missed it, so it’s definitely a change. It was kind of nice to ease into the day when we had homeroom.”

“It’s a very sudden start to the day, and I think it forces teachers to get here a little bit earlier and be a little bit prepared and right on the ball right a way,” English teacher Deb Salzman said. “I think that we’ll get used to it, but you know, it is a transition.”

Other teachers find this time beneficial for students and instruction.

“In my case, I do a lot of cooking,” culinary arts and autrition teacher Zbysia Giegucz said. “If it adds five to 10 minutes into classroom time then I think it’s great because we get to do more in the classroom than we were able to do before.”

Unless we make up that time elsewhere, you’re talking about 10 minutes in a day over 180 days. That’s about thirty hours and you’ve got to make up those hours elsewhere.

— Assistant Principle Paul DiDomenico

Some returning students have found it particularly hard to adjust to the change.

“In my previous years at Algonquin, I did some of my homework largely in homeroom,” senior Jay Rizzitano said. “I have math first period so it is kind of awkward if your math teacher sees you doing your homework right before class.”

“It’s been confusing especially for the first couple of weeks of not having homeroom,” junior Gillian Cozzolino said. “I’d rather have homeroom and have five more minutes at the end of the day.”

Conversely, others find having more time helpful in the morning.

“I kind of think that homeroom might help people finish homework assignments but this kind of forces you to do your homework at home, so I think it can be good or bad,” sophomore Luke Brogna said.

Some administrators are still thinking about alternative possibilities that would allow reinstating homeroom.

“Unless we make up that time elsewhere, you’re talking about 10 minutes in a day over 180 days [in a school year]. That’s about thirty hours and you’ve got to make up those hours elsewhere,” DiDomenico said.

According to Mead, one option he thinks would work is to put an additional 10 minutes at the end of the school day so school ends at 2 p.m.

“My suggestion would be change our time on station [time during the day], lengthening the school day a little bit without too much trouble or problem,” Mead said. “That would afford us to either return to homeroom or adopt another sort of organizing strategy that might answer a few things that include our need to build community and our need to establish stronger ties among each other.”

Some administrators agree that homeroom is a key part of the day.

“I find it a little bit arbitrary; 990, why not 995 or 985, and I thought homeroom was a nice way to start the day,” DiDomenico said. “It allowed you to get into the groove of the day a little bit.”

“The largest benefit that came from homeroom is that it was primarily about students and a teacher becoming, by virtue of the routine, trusting and communicating about school and life,” Mead said. “I very much regret that [losing homeroom] because I think that that’s very important, and it is important for us as a school to provide those kinds of opportunities for students and teachers.”