T he Tahoma School Board is considering a proposal to change the school calendar next year so that Tahoma schools start late every Monday.
Principals in conjunction with district administrators created the proposal, which will be presented to the school board for discussion at tonight’s meeting. It could come up for a vote as early as the next meeting, April 10.
The idea is to give teachers time to collaborate more frequently. Currently, teachers meet for professional development during three full-release days and nine early release days.
The principals propose eliminating these release days and instead starting classes 90 minutes late every Monday. This means the elementary schools, for example, would start at 10:40 a.m., and the high school would start at 9:45 a.m. on Mondays.
The current release day schedule means that professional development “is sporadic with lengthy periods of time where teams have no opportunity within the work day to come together for collaborative learning,” the proposal says. “In the current calendar the number of weeks staff must wait for scheduled time to come together varies from two to six weeks across the course of the year.”
Administrators say this isn’t good for teachers, who need to meet “regularly and frequently” to satisfy demands that range from new national curriculum standards, a new teacher evaluation system and the school district’s own Classroom 10 teaching and learning initiative.
“Teachers working in isolation, no matter how hard they are working, cannot sustain and support the growth necessary that results in increased performance for all students,” the proposal says.
The weekly late start plan also aligns with schedules that most neighboring districts have adopted. In fact, Bellevue, Issaquah, Kent, Puyallup, Riverview and Snoqualmie all incorporate a weekly late start or early release of two hours or more. As Tahoma would under the proposal, Renton and Sumner offer 90 minutes, while Auburn, Enumclaw and White River offer 60 to 75 minutes.
Some of these districts lengthened the school day to accommodate the loss of instructional time, but Tahoma’s 90 minutes per week would take away only three hours of total instructional time over the course of the year compared with the current release schedule, the proposal states.
The Tahoma principals characterize the proposed change as more “family-friendly” than the current system because the calendar will be more predictable and consistent.
The parent-teacher conference schedule would not change, with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving maintained as early release days.
The school board meets at 6:30 tonight at the Central Services Center across from Rock Creek Elementary. View the board agenda and a link to the proposal HERE.
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