Recently, the district notified families that next school year the calendar will include 15 early release days for students in order to provide staff with ongoing professional development throughout the year. Students will be released 50 minutes earlier than their usual dismissal time on these days.
Some parents expressed concern regarding these professional development sessions cutting into student instruction time. What was not specified in the letter home to parents explaining the new schedule is that the two days that in previous years were used for professional development (one in October and one in February) were added back into the schedule. These two additional days make up for the classroom time lost on the early dismissal days.
Research has shown that professional development is much more effective in shorter, more frequent sessions rather than longer, less frequent ones. Beginning in the fall, many of our teachers will be implementing the new, more rigorous Common Core State Standards that will be required for all schools starting with the 2014-2015 school year. This continuous and ongoing professional development will help ensure that the transition to these new standards is smooth, which ultimately benefits our students.
Concerns have also been voiced about parents’ schedules that may not be flexible enough to pick up their child at the earlier time. The district’s after-school child care partners have confirmed that they are able to adjust their operations to accommodate the early dismissal days so parents who utilize those services will be able to continue to do so without disruption. Also, the district is working on providing activities at the elementary buildings for those students who may not be able to be picked up 50 minutes early.
This new schedule will take patience and cooperation on everyone’s part. The district does not take lightly the inconvenience and issues the schedule may pose for some parents. However, we believe that a highly qualified and highly trained staff that is learning and implementing the best and latest classroom strategies will translate into higher student achievement and that is everyone’s goal.
Below is a reminder of the early release dates for the 2012-2013 school year. The dates fall on the second and fourth Thursday of most months:
September 13 & 27 February 7 & 21
October 11 & 25 March 7 & 21
December 13 April 11 & 25
January 10 & 24 May 9 & 23
Dismissal times on these days will be as follows:
High school - 2:10 p.m.
Middle school - 1:48 p.m.
Elementary - 2:15 p.m.
A reminder that on the early release days, all elementary students must be in school by 8:45 a.m. There will be no second bell at 9 a.m. on these days.
The district will remind families through the AlertNow notification system by phone and email the day prior to each early release date.