According to the state Department Of Education: Traditional study halls are not considered "directed" or "independent" study solely because of the presence of a teacher in the room.
Last year Northampton High School had no mandated study halls while Amherst Regional High School had two. Even the diffident Regional School Committee voted down Principal Jackson's suggestion to up it to three study halls.
Meanwhile Northampton's overhead per student that year was only $11,699, below the $13,062 state average; Amherst's platinum plated Regional schools spent a whopping $16,909 per student--well above state average.
So even if principal Mark Jackson--Amherst's 2nd highest paid town employee--is correct that "directed study hall counts towards the state mandated time in learning," that still means the venerable Amherst schools barely beat (by only 3%) bare minimum state standards (990 hours) while spending almost 30% more.
For Champagne prices we should be able to avoid Piels beer performance.
Principal Mark Jackson is defending the warehousing of kids as long as a qualified teacher (the more qualified, the higher the salary) is sitting up front acting as baby sitter, rather than simply a responsible warm body.
If no actually teaching is taking place, what difference does it make? It would be lot cheaper to use para professionals. Or maybe we could get some volunteer grad students from the Umass School of Education.
And no, as of this evening Mr. Jackson has not provided a state legal source confirming that a certified teacher makes all the difference with study halls.