Howard County considers post-Labor Day start for schools

The Howard County Times reports, “A post-Labor Day start for Howard County Public Schools was met with little criticism from the community Thursday evening during the Board of Education’s public hearing.”

About a dozen people testified before the board regarding the Academic Calendar Planning Committee’s two proposals for the Howard County 2017-2018 school year. One calendar recognized Gov. Larry Hogan‘s executive order in September that mandates Maryland public schools start after Labor Day and end by June 15. The post-Labor Day calendar would have school staff return on Thursday, Aug. 24 and students starting on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Virginia highlights Digital Learning Day

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), in cooperation with the Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) and the Alliance for Excellent Education, recently announced that February 23, 2017, will be Digital Learning Day. It will highlight the use of digital learning resources such as the Virtual Virginia Mathematics lessons in eMediaVA, GoOpenVA, and other Department of Education technology initiatives.

All education stakeholders are invited to review the Digital Learning Day resources. Participants will have access to ideas and ways to plan their celebration as well as updates, informational videos, webinars, and other resources.

Several activities will be held February 23 to highlight and celebrate participants across the nation. VSTE will be partnering with the VDOE to provide a full day of virtual events for Digital Learning Day 2017.

VSTE will host an evening webinar beginning at 8 p.m. that will highlight the VSTE 2016 award winners talking about educational technology past, present, and future. Throughout the day, VSTE will be featuring students from Metro Richmond area classrooms talking about how they learn, how they use technology to learn, and showing some of the innovative projects they are working on in their classrooms. VSTE is partnering with the local Greater Richmond Area Educational Technology Consortium (GRAETC) to provide these classroom visits.

To access the full schedule for the VDOE/VSTE Digital Learning Day 2017 events, go to http://vste.org/digital-learning-day-february-23-2017/This link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website for more information. To learn more about Digital Learning Day, go to http://www.digitallearningday.orgThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website.

Questions regarding Digital Learning Day should be directed to Jean Weller, Instructional Technology Specialist, Office of Technology and Virtual Learning, at jean.weller@doe.virginia.gov or (804) 225-2825.

 

Florida bill would mandate a minimum time for recess

Mandated recess time up for debate again in Florida legislature.  A bill proposed by Senator Anitere Flores, a Republican from Miami, states, “Each district school board shall provide at least 100 minutes of supervised, safe and unstructured free-play recess each week for students in kindergarten through grade 5 so that there are at least 20 consecutive minutes of free-play recess per day.”

Teacher compensation in Prince William County is studied

According to a consultant’s report presented to the Prince William County School Board, teachers leave Prince William County school to go to Fairfax at the same rate that an equal number of staff members go to Prince William from Fairfax.

The Prince William Times reports that Prince William County Public Schools is behind other Northern Virginia school divisions in the lower steps of the teacher salary scales; however, they “are fairly competitive at mid-range, and above average at the top end of the scales.”

Segal Waters Consulting recommends several changes to the pay scale to help retain teachers. “They include adjusting the scale to reflect market rates throughout the salary scale and boosting tuition reimbursements for teachers and support staff, with a focus on encouraging staff to pursue teacher certification.”

The 2015-16 Total Compensation Market Study reports that PWCS has a teacher turnover rate of 10 percent. Exit surveys show that the top three reasons staff leave are spousal transfers, long commute, and family responsibilities.

Canadian study shows benefit of later school start times

“Later start times could help Canadian teens’ grades,” Science Daily reports. “Researchers found that students from schools that started earlier slept less, were less likely to meet the national sleep recommendations for their age, and were more often tired in the morning.”

Science Daily reports that a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research used “data covering 30,000 students from 362 schools across Canada, from a cross-national survey conducted every four years in more than 40 countries in collaboration with the World Health Organization.”

Start times in the Canadian schools ranged from around 8:00 to 9:30. “We found a strong association between later school start times and better sleep for teens,” says Prof. Frank Elgar, co-author of the study.

Bill would require nurses for Virginia schools

Delegate L. Mark Dudenhefer, (R-Stafford) has sponsored a bill calling for every school district to employ at least one full-time equivalent school nurse in each elementary, middle and high school, and at least one full-time equivalent school nurse position per 1,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12.

Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church) is the co-patron of HB1757. The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that Fairfax County has 65 nurses and 200 aides serving about 185,00 students at 19 schools.

The Times-Dispatch reports that the Virginia Association of Superintendents argues that the requirement would be difficult to put in place.

 They say many areas, particularly in Southwest and Southside Virginia, are dealing with nursing shortages. How, the association asks, is the district supposed to find nurses when hospitals are having a difficult time finding staff.”

Colorado school district change to later start times

The Cherry Creek School District in Colorado might start high school classes an hour later next year. The Star Scottsbluff Herald reports that “parents, students and staff members who responded to a survey last year overwhelmingly supported moving the start time to 8:14 a.m. for high school and 8:50 a.m. for middle school. Elementary schools would start and end earlier.”

“A different reality”

Education was mentioned in President Donald Trump’s inaugural address in the context of a “different reality” –

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

He then said, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Who are the nefarious schemers who are showered with cash and then deprive our students of all knowledge? It is jarring to see the American education system included in a dark vision of “American carnage.”

Tennessee schools are required to provide time for non-structured physical activity

A new state law in Tennessee requires kindergartners and first graders to get 225 minutes of unstructured physical activity a week, and second through sixth graders must get 160 minutes per week.

News Channel 11 reports that the department of education is helping schools comply with the new physical activity law.  School districts were sent a memo in December explaining that “classroom activity breaks like Go Noodle cannot count towards the law because they are structured activities and the law requires activities to be non-structured.”

Channel 11 reports that local school districts would like to see more clarification or even changes. Greene County Director of Schools David McLain suggested that a law simply saying kids need 45 minutes a day of physical activity would be better.

Fort Pierce Library offers program for early dismissal days

In Florida, TCCPalm reports that the Fort Pierce Library is offering an after-school program on early dismissal days:

Middle school students looking for something different on early dismissal days can stop by the Fort Pierce Library to hone their S.T.E.M. skills with games such as Prime Climb, Escape Evil and Qwirkle.

Early release dates for 2017 school year are: Jan 25; Feb. 15; March 10; April 5; May 24; and June 1 and 2. The Early Release Day program starts at 2:30 p.m.