BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos Public Schools has announced that the district has two fully-funded opportunities to add learning days to the school calendar for next school year, 2021-2022.
K-6+ adds 15 days (on top of ELTP) for Kindergarten through 6th-grade students. This program will replace traditional summer programs and adds an additional 15 contract days for all K-6 staff increasing their base pay. An average level 2 teacher will see an annual increase of about $7,000.
In a newsletter sent to parents Tuesday, Supt. Kurt Steinhaus said the options under consideration are:
1. Extended Learning Time Program (ELTP) – adds 10 days for all PreK-12 students to create more learning opportunities for students and add more paid contract days for staff.
2. K-6+ adds 15 days (on top of ELTP) for Kindergarten through 6th-grade students. This program will replace traditional summer programs and adds an additional 15 contract days for all K-6 staff increasing their base pay. An average level 2 teacher will see an annual increase of about $7,000.
“We also have the option of continuing with a traditional calendar similar to what we have had in the past,” Steinhaus said. That option may be viewed at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NFCftLjazgx51zordXCaoo5ylQxzpejl/view
Steinhaus invited parents to information sessions Monday, May 3 via Zoom. The eleImentary session is a 5 p.m. with the secondary session to follow at 6 p.m. Parents with students in both elementary and secondary schools are asked to attend the 5 p.m. session.
“If you cannot attend an information session, no problem, it will be recorded and a survey will be sent to you on Monday evening.
No decision will be made on the calendar until the school board’s May 11 meeting.
At the board’s April 20 meeting, Steinhaus explained that about 12 years ago, the legislature through the Legislative Education Study Committee began reviewing a report called “No Time To Lose” published by the National Conference of State Legislators. He said it was a very detailed report based on many years of research that came up with a set of conclusions and recommendations that the legislature for those 12 years has been looking at and trying to implement legislation that met the research in the report. One of the pieces of legislation that is directly designed to meet those requirements and recommendations started as a program called K-3+.
Steinhaus said last year the legislature passed over $100 million for the Extended Learning Time Program (ELTP) which is actually enough time for 10 extra days in school and another program called K-5+.
“There’s language in the law that if your school district has sixth graders in your elementary, you’re eligible to include sixth graders as well,” he said.
He noted that last year the board gave staff a thumbs up on ELTP and a thumbs down on K-5+, however, the Public Education Department realized that nobody was applying for the money and decided to lighten up on the requirements. He said PED agreed to change the program to allow Saturday School to count as ELTP and to permit 20 half days instead of 10 full days which is what they implemented this year.
Asst. Supt. Jennifer Guy told the board that over the years when the district has talked about the addition of the K-3+ or K-5+ programs it’s been adding 25 days.
“This school year we had the ability to just add 15 days. Students have an additional opportunity to attend school this year from June 1-21. This gives teachers in the elementary schools a chance to work 15 additional days. That means we’re paying them for 15 additional contract days,” she said.
Guy said the district will be providing transportation and Chartwells will be providing lunch. She said the district is working on proving something a little different in the afternoons so that students will have some engaging and fun activities to choose from and more information will be provided on those activities soon for parents.
Guy noted that 22 half days have been added for Saturday School which was introduced for the first for elementary school this school year.
“We had some really good attendance on some Saturdays and we definitely feel like it’s a need and there’s definitely interest. Attendance for ELTP was optional and teachers were paid at their hourly rate for working those programs,” she said.
Guy said the state has given the district a little bit of flexibility for the 2021-2022 school year.
“We can stack the program so if we participate in the 10 days for ELTP we can just add 15 days for K-6+ so we can have a total of 25 days. If we only participate in the K-6+ we would have to add 25 days. If we only participate in ELTP we would have to add 10 days. If we do both, we can overlap of stack the days,” she said.
The district received a memo from the Public Education Department in March saying it is the hope and e a memo from PED saying that it is the hope and expectation that all schools across the state will participate in one or both programs, Guy said, and expressing the importance of recovering learning time.
“A lot of people are wondering why we would want to do this. Some of the benefits right off the top are, it’s good for kids. It’s really good for some kids. We certainly have an interest, and in some cases a high interest in summer programs and the extra learning time. It provides all staff in the district 10 extra days if we do ELTP, which increases their base pay, which also impacts their retirement positively. For elementary staff we would be adding 15 extra days which would also increase their base pay. So for the average Level II teacher that’s about $7,000 a year,” Guy said. “It provides increased access to summer learning for all elementary students and we’ve seen the growth in our summer programs over the last several years and our enrollment has steadily increased.”
She said the programs are fully-funded to the tune of $4.7 million, with almost $2 million coming into the district if the ELPT option adding 10 extra days next year is added. If the K-6+ is added the district will receive $2.7 million.
“We are asking for the board’s direction on the next step, not a decision. We would like more information. We would like to know if the staff and the families would like to do this,” Guy said.
She noted that the district would like to put the calendar options out to the staff and the public to gather feedback and answer questions so that a decision could be made at the board’s May 11 meeting.
“We don’t have the flexibility next year for it to be partly or optional. If we do ELPT for everybody in the district, we have to add 10 calendar days to the school. Teachers can opt out. If we do K-6+ we have to add 15 days. If we do both programs it’s not optional. That’s one of the reasons we feel it’s really important to make sure staff are really clear because we had more flexibility this year than we will next year,” Guy said.
Steinhaus added that the difference between the two programs this school year and next school year are that the district will not be allowed to use Saturday School as ELTP so that would mean an additional 10 days and that attendance would be taken following the state statute. Guy noted that Saturday School will continue but will be funded in a different way.
The district is holding a meeting for staff Wednesday. The links for Monday’s meetings are as follows:
Elementary Parent Meeting 5 – 6 pm
Middle and High School Parent Meeting 6 – 7 pm