T he Tahoma School District will release all schools 90 minutes early most Fridays next year for staff professional development time.
The calendar change comes after a unanimous vote Tuesday night of the Tahoma School Board that followed a special meeting attended by about 50 parents and staff at the Rock Creek Elementary gym.
The weekly early release Fridays will replace the current schedule of three full-release days and nine early-release days that Tahoma currently uses for professional development, so total class time will remain mostly unchanged over the course of the year.
The first Friday of the school year, Sept. 7, will be on a regular schedule, but each Friday after that will be early release. The November parent conference schedule will not change.
The current plan is to hold half-day kindergarten for a full day minus the 90 minutes on alternating Fridays, meaning AM would attend one week and PM the next week. Principals, however, are still evaluating alternatives for the half-day kindergarten schedule, says district spokesperson Kevin Patterson.
Click HERE to view the new calendar for the 2012-2013 school year.
The plan grew out of meetings earlier in the year of the district’s principals, who wanted to provide more frequent professional development time for the district’s teachers. Tahoma is one of the few districts in the region that still holds staff training and collaboration on full or half days just a few times a year.
“Board members said they support the recommendation from principals to establish consistent opportunities for teachers to come together and focus on implementing new curriculum, building skills, and sharing knowledge as we continue to raise education standards,” says Patterson.
Board member Mary Jane Glaser acknowledged that the district would rather not use any class time at all for staff development, but it is not possible to pay teachers for time beyond their contract hours.
Patterson agrees that holding staff development outside the school day is financially unrealistic.
“No district can afford it, which is why the majority use some form of early release or late start for staff development,” Patterson says.
At a March school board meeting, the principals proposed starting school 90 minutes late each Monday, but many parents and teachers complained about the choice of Mondays, most arguing that it’s best to start the week on time.
At the Tuesday meeting, the district had devised two new options: a Friday late start or a Friday early release. Principals had expressed reservations about an early release schedule, saying that it would complicate transportation to and from after-school activities and sports.
Also, teachers at Tahoma High School expressed concerns that the current “blue-gold” block schedule (classes held every other day) would not work with weekly professional development because some classes would be regularly shortchanged.
Tuesday night, the board directed administrators to come up with workable solutions to these and other issues that might arise with the new schedule.
To ready earlier stories and view comments on this issue, click HERE.
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