The last super short day of school?

Today is the last day of school for Fairfax County Public Schools. Students who actually attend on this day will be in school for two hours.

One extra benefit of the proposed change in the master schedule and the school calendar being considered is that the last day of school next year would be a bit more substantial. The proposal is that there would be a two-hour early dismissal on the last day rather than two hours total in the day. That makes more sense and makes it more worthwhile to transport students to and from school.

At the May 28 school board work session on the proposal, Dan Parris said, “I don’t know how it was created but we have had this two- hour day at the end of the year.” Under the new proposal, “It would be a two- hour early release.”

Prince William County adds 10 minutes to the school day

Last night the Prince William County School Board unanimously voted to add 10 minutes to the school day starting next September. This change does not affect the length of the teacher contract day. The board also identified potential make-up days.

The agenda is shown below. There is a table showing regional comparisons for the length of the school days and years. I am puzzled by the figure given for Fairfax County Elementary schools: 355 minutes. That equals 5.92 hours. The table does note that there are weekly early dismissals.

I hope that Fairfax administrators who are working on the Fairfax proposals for schedule changes will give clear explanations of the current and proposed length of the school days.  Recommendation 2 in the current draft of the Fairfax proposal says: “Define the Elementary School Day at 410 Minutes.”

The Fairfax proposal says, “Currently, as defined, the length of the school day varies by level with 400 minutes shown for elementary schools, 410 minutes for middle schools and 405 for high schools.”

Here is the agenda for the Prince William County School Board’s consideration of 2014-15 School Calendar Adjustments: [Read more…]

Pennsylvania School district might eliminate most early dismissals

East Penn School District to consider eliminating early dismissals on Wednesdays at elementary schools. “For students, the advantages of eliminating half-day Wednesdays are more instructional time and consistency in their schedules, administrators say,” Lehigh Valley Live reports. “For teachers, a shared preparation time at the start of each school day could lead to increased collaboration across grade levels.”

Pennsylvania school district might eliminate weekly early dismissals

East Penn may scrap Wednesday early dismissals for elementary students, according to the Morning Call. 

The current schedule has elementary students starting at 8:55 a.m. and being dismissed at 3:30 p.m. every day but Wednesday. On Wednesdays, pupils leave at 1:30 p.m.

The proposed schedule would see pupils start at 9 a.m. and finish at 3:20 p.m. every day. That schedule would add 45 minutes of instructional time weekly, which works out to about 31 hours a year.

The proposed elementary schedule would also increase the total prep time for teachers from 300 minutes weekly to 310 minutes weekly.

“Superintendent Thomas Seidenberger said the only added cost to the district would be a maximum of $70,000 for extending the hours of some instructional assistants,” the Morning Call reports.

The East Penn School District is located in the Lehigh Valley’s metropolitan area. There are seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school.

Montgomery County will make up two snow days

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has made final adjustments to this year’s school calendar and will make up two snow days. Under a plan approved by the Maryland State Department of Education today, school will be held on the following days:

–  Monday, April 21, 2014, also known as Easter Monday
–  Friday, June 13, 2014, which will be an early release day and the last day of school for students (June 12 will be now be a full day)

No other snow days will have to be made up under the state-approved plan. The 2013-2014 school calendar has 184 days of instruction, which is four more than required by state law. MCPS has had 10 snow days this school year and, therefore, is six days under the 180 days of instruction required by state law.

On Wednesday, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery granted a waiver that allows MCPS to go four days below the required days of instruction if school is held on April 21 and June 13. On Monday she denied an earlier waiver request to waive five days and make up one snow day.

“We appreciate Dr. Lowery’s recognition that this has been a very unusual winter and her willingness to grant us some flexibility in our calendar,” said Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr. “By holding classes on April 21 and June 13, we can make up two valuable days of instruction without significantly disrupting our community’s summer schedules.”

Scott MacFarlane summarizes the snow day makeup plans in the Washington area

Local Schools Scramble to Make Up Snow Days | NBC4 Washington.  “Fairfax County schools say they’ll decide next week whether to add minutes to remaining school days to make up for lost time, or possibly add a June day to the school year.”

“Fauquier County, Va. schools have missed 17 days; the district has turned planned early-dismissal days into full days and added 10 minutes to each school day.”

The  NBC4 website link to this has a table showing how local school districts plan to make up snow days.

Arlington adds more full days to elementary school schedule

Most of the Wednesday early dismissal days for the elementary schools will be changed to full days to make up time lost to snow days. Because Arlington Public Schools has lost additional instructional time on March 3 and 4 due to inclement weather, in addition to the earlier time lost in January and February, the following is the updated make-up schedule. This revised plan, announced in a March 6 press release, replaces the make-up day plan originally announced on February 18, 2014. If there are no additional school closures due to inclement weather or other emergencies this year, this plan allows APS to maintain the Memorial Day Holiday and Spring Break. It also prevents APS from having to add days to the end of the school year. [Read more…]

Comparison of snow days in area school systems

Schools Scramble to Make Up for Snow Days | Comcast SportsNet Washington.

This article has a handy table showing the school systems, snow days allocated, snow days used, and make-up days/plan. It is interesting to see that in Arlington, nine early dismissal days will become full days and more changes are possible.

Williamsburg-James City limits recess to 15 minutes per day

The Virginia Gazette reports that some parents spoke up at a school board meeting for Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools protesting a plan to limit recess to 15 minutes per day. However, this was approved as part of a plan to make up time lost due to snow days:

Students in Williamsburg-James City Schools lost five full days due to snow and its aftermath. Secondary schools don’t have to make up those days because their longer-than-required school day will still satisfy the 990 teaching hours that state law requires. However, the elementary schools did need to make up time, which the school division did by extending the school day by five minutes, cutting recess down to 15 minutes and extending two early-release days into full school days beginning Feb. 10.

The school board avoided one option to reduce recess to 10 minutes each day, which would have eliminated the need to extend the school day.

This is an interesting contrast to the attitude in Fairfax County, where a 10-minute limit to recess has been in effect for seven years without any corrective action being taken by the Fairfax County School Board. It is time for Fairfax to stop Monday early dismissals and provide more recess time.

Weekly early dismissals begin in Illinois school district

On January 31, the Palatine Community Consolidated School District 15 started early dismissals on Fridays. The new schedule, which allows for the launch of the District’s professional development program, will have the same number of instructional minutes as the old schedule. The Chicago Tribune reports that students “are starting school five minutes earlier and ending five minutes later on Monday through Thursday and ending 50 minutes earlier on Fridays.”

The Tribune noted that some parents had some concerns.

Community Consolidated School District 15 is the third largest elementary district in Illinois, serving a diverse population of all or part of seven northwest suburban communities: Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, South Barrington, Arlington Heights, and Schaumburg.

District 15 has fifteen elementary schools, four junior high schools, and one preschool early childhood center and alternative public day school.