The K-8 Leadership Team has finalized a recommendation for the 2022-2023 daily schedule. The proposal is to shift back to early dismissal Wednesdays, with instructional time ending at 1:30pm and 2:00pm at the elementary and middle campus, respectively. The proposal will be voted on at tomorrow’s Governing Board meeting tomorrow (April 21 at 6:30pm).
Building in time during the school day for teacher planning and collaboration is an important part of what makes us a successful – and somewhat unique – place of learning. This is considered a best practice in education, and it is particularly important at a school that prioritizes differentiation and individualized instruction. We believe that faculty planning and collaboration time is directly linked to student growth and development, and we also believe that it is a major reason why our faculty turnover rate is so much lower than what other schools experience.
The goal is to provide built-in time for teachers to plan lessons, assess student data, collaborate across the grade level or subject area, monitor progress and reflect on their practice.
While we have found that shifting planning and collaboration time to Monday mornings have made for more efficient meetings, this advantage is outweighed by the fact that some of the most productive sessions have been cut short by the “hard stop” that comes when class has to start. Shifting to early dismissal Wednesdays will mean that – when necessary – teachers can continue to have uninterrupted work time in the afternoon when necessary.
This shift will also mean that we gain 30 minutes of instructional time per week; the late arrival Monday schedule shortened Mondays by 90 minutes – the early dismissal Wednesday schedule will shorten Wednesdays by 60 minutes.
EarlyCare is difficult to staff/manage
When we proposed the shift to late arrival Mondays, providing EarlyCare on Monday mornings for students whose family schedules did not allow them to sleep in was an important prerequisite. Many parents/caregivers do not have the flexibility or latitude to be able to take advantage of the later start. Providing quality supervision for students for 90 minutes on Monday morning has, however, proven somewhat difficult. It has not been easy to find an adequate number of reliable employees to ensure that students attending EarlyCare are appropriately cared for. Remember that our faculty is not available to staff EarlyCare as they are involved in planning, collaboration and faculty meetings during that time.
We have also noticed – perhaps unsurprisingly – that there are socioeconomic factors that play a role in which students are able to enjoy an extra 90 minutes at home before starting school on Mondays. Generally speaking, families with a parent/caregiver who does not work, or parents/caregivers who have more flexible work hours, are less likely to need EarlyCare.
AfterCare next year
Under this proposal the need for EarlyCare would be eliminated, and AfterCare would continue. Next year’s proposed budget resumes the fee schedule for AfterCare. We are considering an array of changes to that program that we hope will improve it for students and parents/caregivers:
- Increase the number of AfterCare scholarships available to meet the needs of families
- Increase the pay rate for AfterCare employees with a goal of recruiting/retaining high quality staff
- Improve/strengthen the training regimen for AfterCare employees to enhance their ability to provide high quality supervision, respond appropriately to disciplinary matters, and better see to the academic and social-emotional needs of enrolled students
- Partner with outside organizations to offer supplemental/enrichment opportunities to students
- Improved/streamlined registration/sign-up platform