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Crystal Ritzenthaler
Crystal Ritzenthaler

Baraboo schoolchildren will be expected to arrive in class 15 minutes earlier this year.

As part of the change, the Baraboo School District also has set aside two hours each week for teachers to spend developing their own skills and evaluating what their students need to advance academically.

Elementary school children should arrive by 7:55 a.m. On regular days, they will be released at 3 p.m.

High school and middle school students will start their day at 7:45 a.m. and finish at 3:15 p.m.

However, students will be released two hours early each Wednesday to give teachers time for collaborative work, Baraboo School District Administrator Crystal Ritzenthaler said Monday in an email reminder.

On Wednesdays, elementary students end their day at 1 p.m., and high school students will finish at 1:15 p.m.

The earlier start to the school day will ensure that students receive the number of hours of instructional time required by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction, Ritzenthaler said.

The Wednesday "collaboration and training" time is necessary in part because more than 70 new teachers have joined the district over the last two years, due to retirements and resignations of veteran staff members, Ritzenthaler said.

In addition to having experienced teachers work to mentor new arrivals, educators also will evaluate student progress and develop steps to help students who might be lagging behind.

During a Baraboo School Board meeting last week, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Lori Mueller presented a schedule of "benchmark" tests for 2011-2012 that district officials will use to track student progress and identify those in need of extra attention.

"We can make sure they are making gains each school year," she said. "It also allows us to look at curricular areas to see if there are any gaps in the curriculum."

Last week, Ritzenthaler said the process of working to help students advance must be done on an individual basis.