The Fairfax County School Board should approve a full day of school on Mondays

This evening I urged the Fairfax County School Board to eliminate the Monday early dismissal policy in the elementary schools. Here is my testimony at the public hearing on the FY 2014 Advertised Budget:

Good evening, Ms. Evans, members of the board, and Superintendent Dale. I respectfully request that you eliminate the Monday early dismissal policy in the elementary schools because full day Mondays would benefit many children.

The FY 2014 Proposed Budget asks for $6.5 million in added time for teachers without a single minute of additional time in school for the elementary school students. The last time that some teachers had longer contract hours, the students in their schools had full day Mondays. [The 8-hour contract day for teachers, librarians, instructional aides,  and counselors  in 16 elementary schools was discontinued due to budget cuts. Now Thomas Jefferson is the only school with an 8-hour contract day for teachers.] If additional teacher contract hours are now added without any additional time for students, it will be harder than ever to try to achieve full day Mondays in the future.

There are many different ways of ending the Monday early dismissals while providing alternative planning time for the teachers. Over the past 24 years there have been several reasonable proposals to end early dismissals in all schools. One would have cost $3.6 million. It was criticized as being too cheap. Two other proposals ranged in cost from $5.6 million to $8.8 million. Some critics blasted these plans as too cheap and not good enough for Fairfax County. Many of these same critics also said the school system could not afford these allegedly inadequate proposals anyway. A narrow majority of school board members voted against these plans on the grounds that the budget was too tight. A fourth proposal would have cost between $11 and $13 million if implemented in all elementary schools. The school board shelved this task force proposal without even voting on the issue.

Now it would be unfair to provide additional contract time for teachers without providing the elementary school students with an adequate amount of time in school each week. You should not continue to dismiss these vulnerable young children two hours early every Monday. You should allow them to stay in school for a full day.

You are in charge. It is your decision.

 

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