Purdy adopts earlier, later schedule

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Public concerns focus on request for volunteers

Purdy students will be getting up earlier next fall, with the district opting to open classes at 8:15 a.m.

The district has opted to go with the proposed earlier schedule with a 3:15 p.m. dismissal to incorporate more time for faculty training. Classes now let out at 3:10 p.m.

The change was proposed by Superintendent Steven Chancellor as the district moves toward a one-to-the-world program, issuing laptop computers to every upper grade level student and adding more technology devices into the teaching strategies at lower grades.

Purdy now has the latest starting time for students in the area at 8:30 a.m. The change will enable teachers to meet for professional development every Monday, putting the starting time for the first classes on Monday at about 9:11 a.m. The new schedule will have seven 52-minute class periods Tuesday through Friday, and 40-minute class periods on Monday with a 25-minute lab time.

During a recent public meeting, two concerns dominated the feedback received on the plan. The immediate reaction questioned the wisdom of running classes until 3:30 p.m., generally viewed as too late. The reaction prompted moving dismissal time back to 3:15 p.m.

The other major criticism focused on the plan for managing students before classes. Chancellor talked about having non-certified staff and volunteers directing student activity during the first hour. Patrons expressed concern that students would be unsupervised. Chancellor stressed there would be plenty of staff to direct activities, especially for the younger students.

"We can probably do our Monday mornings without any volunteers," Chancellor said. "We're trying to start a program getting more dads involved in the elementary school. This would be a perfect opportunity to get more involved for an hour at the elementary school."

Chancellor said he hopes to make the forum into an annual event.

Board members also adopted a calendar for the 2014-15 school year, holding fairly closely to the Monett School District's calendar to coordinate with the Scott Regional Technology Center calendar. The first day of school will be on Aug. 12. The last official day was set for May 19, 2015.

Unlike past years, Chancellor said the board decided to delay setting graduation until January or February, as many other districts have done. The move will offer more flexibility with snow days.

A number of local districts, including Purdy, found themselves caught during the current year by concentrating their snow make-up days at the end of May. The new calendar chose to fall closer toward Monett's example, giving the option of replacing more professional development days earlier in the year with make-up days.

"We wanted to anticipate our snow days, using this year as a model," Chancellor said. "We had a lot of snow days before the Christmas break and a lot after. Even though we missed a lot, we were able to go some days more than other nearby districts like Wheaton and Cassville.

"Monett and Pierce City were able to go more than we did. We didn't have the system they had in place."

Snow days, scheduled in order, will be May 20-22, 2015, Feb. 13, March 13, April 6 and 13, March 23, Feb. 23 and Jan. 19.

"If we got the bulk of our snow in February, it wouldn't have helped a whole lot for next year," Chancellor added.

Because of the calendar arrangement, the Christmas break for the coming year will run two full weeks. Students will get out of classes at noon on Friday, Dec. 19, and return on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.

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