Garrett County schools to start before Labor Day

“The Maryland State Board of Educated recently approved a waiver request that will allow schools in Garret County to start before Labor Day for the 2017-18 year,”  WCBC reports. “The county was eligible to request a waiver because it had closed 10 days per year during two of the last five years due to severe weather conditions.”

Advocates push for later start times and longer recess

Advocates for later start times and a longer recess testified recently before the Eden Prairie School Board in Minnesota. Speaking at the January 23 meeting, several people testified that 20 minutes was not a long enough time for recess. Some also spoke in favor of later start times for middle and high school students in this Minnesota school district.

 

National Popular Vote Compact fails to pass this year in Virginia

This month a bill to have Virginia join the National Popular Vote Compact was introduced in the House of Delegates by Delegates Marcus B. Simon, Kaye Kory, Mark H. Levine, Delores L. McQuinn, Kenneth R. Plum, Marcia S. “Cia” Price, Sam Rasoul, Luke E. Torian, Rosylyn C. Tyler, and Vivian Watts. The Senate patrons were George L. Barker, Adam P. Ebbin, Janet D. Howell, and Scott A Surovell.

Virginia’s Legislative Information System gives this summary of HB 1482 Presidential electors; National Popular Vote Compact:

Summary as Introduced:

Presidential electors; National Popular Vote Compact. Enters Virginia into an interstate compact known as the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote. Article II of the United States Constitution gives the states exclusive and plenary authority to decide the manner of awarding their electoral votes. Under the compact, Virginia agrees to award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact goes into effect when states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have joined the compact. A state may withdraw from the compact; however, a withdrawal occurring within six months of the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President has qualified to serve the next term.

HB 1482 was referred to the House Committee on Privileges and Elections and then to the Subcommittee on elections. On January 24 the subcommittee vetoed against the bill, killing it for this session. So we will have to wait until next year to see another chance for this much-needed reform.

Three cheers for the sponsors of the bill. Be sure and support them and encourage more efforts next year.

 

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.”