Scheduling change would extend Purdy school day

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Purdy school leaders are considering a change that would lengthen the school day.

The purpose of the change would be to provide more time for professional development of the faculty.

According to Mindy Gates, director of curriculum and instruction, the Purdy delegation discussed how learning with technology starts with a model, strategies and workshops following a recent trip to Apple Computer headquarters in California.

"In the past, faculty looked at professional development as a benefit to employment," Gates said. "Now, it's a requisite for improvement."

In recent years, training days for faculty have been limited to one day per month and monthly staff meetings. The time between sessions made it difficult to develop much continuity or for teachers to collaborate with other faculty, particularly at different grade levels, Gates said.

"We need to put something in place to show how professional development is working," she said.

Superintendent Steven Chancellor and Gates proposed holding professional learning team meetings beginning at 8 a.m. every Monday, then starting classes later at 8:30 a.m. Mondays would become seven-period days, similar to early release days. All Monday classes would be shortened to about 45 minutes to distribute the time lost from class.

Students would be allowed into the building with buses running at the same time. Staff members not engaged in professional development activities, such as health and physical education teachers, could engage the early students in activities during that time.

High school students who provide their own transportation would not have to begin classes until 9:20 a.m. Chancellor said meeting time for clubs was "dying," so that instead of allocating class time for meetings, students could schedule club meetings on Monday mornings.

"This is one of those times we leverage our good kids," to manage the others, Chancellor said. "I love the idea of opening a student help desk in the morning, where students can help each other."

The school day would be extended to the end of the contracted time, with classes dismissing at 3:30 p.m. instead of 3:10 p.m. The adjustment would add 48 minutes to school each week, extending the school year from 1,875 to 1,923 instructional minutes.

The professional development goal, Chancellor said, would be to focus on core areas. Gates specified looking at "what we want learned, how do we know it is learned, and how do we respond if it's not learned." Teachers will develop a response-to-intervention model.

Chancellor planned to meet with the Community Teachers Association with the proposal. He anticipated confusion and some resistance from disrupting the normal schedule.

"My pitch to them is we're making demands, this is working in support to do them," he said. "I hope teachers will see this as we're putting our money where our mouth is. I think we stand to accomplish a lot from this model. This initiates what great school districts do. Nobody can do professional development once a month."

"Teachers are starting to understand they need more time to talk and develop," Gates said. "They need time to talk to other reachers on the same topic. "Now we're not able to give them that time. With different Mondays, they can have a different conversation."

With the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, the Purdy schools will have an expanded cafeteria and not need to start lunches at 10:30 a.m. Chancellor said administrators have started to work out adjustments in the schedule.

Chancellor said he plans to have a schedule to propose ready for the 7 p.m. Monday, March 17 board meeting.

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