PRESS RELEASE: Durham Public Schools Partners with Citizen Schools to Lengthen School Day

Contacts:Abby Whisenant, Citizen Schools North Carolina Jeffrey Nash, Durham Public Schools 


Neal Middle School to Lengthen School Day this Fall

School Partners with Nonprofit Organization to Add Hours and Spur Positive Academic Outcomes

Durham, NC – September 6, 2011 – Durham Public Schools announced today that it will partner with Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit that runs programs in Durham, Charlotte and fifteen other cities across the country, to lengthen the school day at Neal Middle School by over two hours each day for all sixth graders this school year. In total, Citizen Schools will serve about 270 students at Neal Middle School this academic year.

During the expanded hours, students will receive academic support, participate in a language arts “academic league” aimed at raising proficiency in English Language Arts, and learn about what it takes to succeed in school and get into college.  In addition, students will sign up for “apprenticeships” where small groups of students will be matched with professionals from the community.  These volunteers will work under the supervision of Citizen Schools staff to teach students about different careers, professions, and increase student leadership skills. 

This announcement comes at a time of great momentum for longer school days nationally.  Both President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have consistently called for longer days as part of their ambitious effort to reform the nation’s schools.  As school districts across the country focus on turning around our most challenged schools, more and more school leaders are turning to longer days as a strategy for school improvement.  In fact, a report released last month by the National Center on Time and Learning states that more than 1,000 schools and districts have expanded their schedules, innovating even in the face of financial adversity. 

”We are excited about the transformation at Neal Middle School,” said Dr. Eric Becoats, Superintendent of Durham Public Schools.  “Citizen Schools will be a major component of the school’s success.”

Jill Hall, Principal of Neal Middle School, also commented on the partnership. “We are committed to providing every student with an engaging and comprehensive STEM-based education, and we believe the extension programs offered by Citizen Schools will enhance the educational experiences of every child involved," said Hall. "We are so proud to offer a program of this caliber to our 6th grade students.” 

Citizen Schools has seen great success on similar initiatives nationwide. At expanded learning time partner schools across the country, the organization is seeing average annual gains in proficiency of nine percentage points in math and seven points in English on standardized tests, positioning the organization to help schools erase or reverse achievement gaps in three to five years on average. 

“We know that expanded learning time done right is an effective strategy for helping schools succeed,” said Tonya Horton, Executive Director of Citizen Schools North Carolina. “Citizen Schools North Carolina is thrilled to take our partnership with Neal Middle School to the next level by offering all sixth graders a longer school day that will provide new educational opportunities that will build academic achievement levels. This initiative is a win for all involved, students, families and our community”

Founded in Boston in 1995, Citizen Schools has grown into a national network of thirty-one “campuses” – middle school partner sites – in low-income communities across seven states.  The North Carolina Citizen Schools program launched in 2006 and will serve over 550 students and engage nearly 180 volunteers in the 2011-2012 school year.  The organization has partnered with Durham Public Schools to provide afterschool programming since the 2008-09 school year.

About Citizen Schools Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low income children across the country. Citizen Schools uniquely mobilizes thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement by teaching skill-building Apprenticeships after school. The organization’s programs blend these real-world learning projects with rigorous academic and leadership development activities, preparing students in the middle grades for success in high school, college, the workforce, and civic life.

Learn more about Citizen Schools North Carolina here.