A new agreement for 2018-21 between the Bexley City School District and the Bexley Education Association, the teachers union, includes an extended school day that is designed to give teachers more time to plan and meet with students, according to Superintendent Kimberly Miller.

"We know it's really important for teachers to have time to collaborate with each other, to work with intervention specialists and also to meet with students," Miller said. "By extending the day, we're able to get to all of those things."

Starting in August, the elementary school day for grades K-5 will be from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m., while the secondary school day for grades 6-12 will be 8:35 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The extended day is in line with medical research that recommends a high school start time of 8:30 a.m. or later to prevent chronic sleep loss among teens, Miller said.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics has spoken quite at length about early start times for adolescents," she said. "They recommend a start time no earlier than 8:30."

The agreement also includes the elimination of late-start days that previously provided meeting and planning time for teachers, Miller said.

"Because of the extended day, the late-start days are no longer necessary," Miller said. "I know a lot of parents are happy about that."

Miller, who joined the district last August, said the schedule changes resulted from conversations she had with faculty during the 2017-18 school year.

"Over the course of the year, at different meetings with teachers, someone would say, 'We need more time to collaborate' or 'We need more time to meet with students,' " she said. "It was a very (collaborative) approach to address needs that teachers had."

Board of Education President John Barno said he, vice president Marlee Snowdon and members Mike Denison, Melissa Lacroix and Michelle Mineo agreed the extended day would help students address individual needs with teachers.

"To be able to give the teachers and students that freedom to work their schedule around, and setting up times to work on things specifically ... we all thought that was a good step forward for everybody," Barno said.

The high school day previously began at 7:54 a.m. while the middle school day began at 8:14 a.m., with both ending at 3:10 p.m., Barno said.

"We thought moving the day back 20 minutes isn't going to affect extracurricular activities and practice times that much," he said.

Miller said contract negotiations took place over the course of four days this past spring. Barno said he attended one session and Snowdon served as the board representative for most of the sessions.

According to the agreement, the contractual year includes 186 days, including one day between Aug. 1 and the start of the school year for planning and preparation. There is also one day between Aug. 1 and the start of the school year for the annual teachers' convocation and professional development, three days at the end of the first, second and third quarters to be split between professional development and planning, and one day solely for professional development.

The agreement sets base pay at $39,192 as of July 1, 2018, with increases to $40,368 on July 1, 2019, and $41,579 on July 1, 2019. The district pays 100 percent of the cost for single and family dental insurance and 100 percent of the monthly premium of a group life insurance policy for each bargaining unit member.

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the district will provide a health-savings account insurance plan. The district will pay 90 percent of the premiums. Beginning in January, the district will annually contribute $1,012.50 to a single participant's HSA and $2,025 for a family contribution.