BY VALERIE FOX
I would like to thank the school board and others who hosted Monday evening’s meeting on the proposed school calendars. The meeting went quite long, and they answered many questions. I am going to highlight a few takeaways from the meeting and wrap it up with my proposal to the board.
The board indicated that the middle and high schools were pretty much on target with needed hours and did not require additional time. If I recall correctly, the middle school needed a buffer for time lost. They stated they added days to those proposed calendars because they felt parents wanted their schedules to match the elementary, which does require additional hours.
I inquired as to whether there was anything preventing the board from adding hours to Wednesday for the elementary and moving the teacher prep time to 1 hour per day after school, as they are guaranteed 300 minutes per week for prep time. Jennifer Guy stated that it would need to be negotiated with the teacher’s union.
We were informed in the meeting that the new calendars would require negotiation with the teacher’s union. Additionally, there is a new law that will require elementary schools to provide lunch on Wednesdays. I inquired as to whether that would open up union negotiations and the answer was that it could, as it will likely add time on Wednesdays.
Concerns were brought up about how a balanced calendar (with more breaks during the year and a shorter summer) would affect children with special needs. The school board is not sure how it would affect our children. Children with special needs often have difficulty with transition and schedule changes. It can have a serious impact on behavior and learning.
Because it is not necessary to add time to the middle and high school schedules, I propose that the board consider leaving those calendars alone, except for adding the needed buffer hours for middle school. I think that is reasonable. Additionally, I propose that the board adopt a calendar for the elementary schools that will add hours on the current half-day Wednesdays, as they will be needing to make time for lunch anyway. It is important to have a minimal impact on the kids and families in this community. Parents in the meeting were expressing a desire for minimal impact and I hope the board takes that into consideration. Thank you all who attended the meeting and asked great questions.