District continues to grapple with early release
Marc Valero | Highlands TodaySEBRING - The school year hasn't even reached the Thanksgiving break, but high school principals and district administrators are already looking at making adjustments to the class schedules for the 2013-14 school year.
Published: November 14, 2012
Published: November 14, 2012
They are trying to strike a balance among teacher planning time, the number of student early release days and the required 180 days of instructional time.
At Monday's school board workshop, it was stressed that there was little time to finalize schedule changes for next school year because it requires extensive computer programming adjustments. Also, principals want everything in place before the current school year ends.
Sebring High Principal Anne Lindsay said Monday that the school board is trying to get a similar amount of planning time for teachers at all grade levels.
Some early release days are used for teacher planning.
Decisions on early release affects instructional time, Lindsay noted.
The school board wants the high school principals to determine if they can meet the instructional time requirements with the number of early release days, Lindsay said. If not they will have to look at other ways to provide teacher planning time.
Will you be doing a different class schedule next year?
Avon Park High Principal Tealy Williams said, "We don't know yet; we are going to decide …."
Lake Placid High Principal Toni Stivender added "we are still in the brainstorming stages."
Lindsay said, "I think we all agree we want to stay with an A/B block schedule. I think our faculty and our parents agree in general they do like the alternating A/B. They like the blocks of instructional time."
The "instructional blocks" are the 88-minute class periods at all three high schools, which provides longer uninterrupted instructional time compared to previous schedules that featured 45-minute or 50-minute class periods.
Williams said the difference among the high schools is the length of the study halls and where they are placed in the schedule.
Once the study hall issue is reviewed, they will determine if they need additional early release days, he said.
Lindsay added, they need to make a decision soon so principals can roll out their bell schedules and schedule classes before students leave at the end of the school year in June.
"The more we can have done by June 5, the better off everybody is," Lindsay stressed.
School Board Vice Chairman Andy Tuck said teacher planning time is very important so they are looking at whatever can be done to provide that time.
When funding cutbacks prompted the district to require educators to teach in all class periods, with no period for planning, the number of early release days was doubled to 20 in the 2009-10 school year.
But half-way through the school year, teachers found they didn't reap the expected benefits, including additional planning time, from the early release days. Also, many parents believed there were too many of the shortened school days that came up about every other Wednesday.
The number of early release days were cut, but the school board approved an increase in August soon after the current school year started. The early release days increased from 12 to 14 for elementary and high school students and were boosted from 12 to 19 for middle school students.
Deputy Superintendent Rodney Hollinger said they discussed continuing next year with the additional early release days for planning purposes for the middle schools.
Middle schools don't have the study halls that the high schools have, which provide planning time during the school day, he said. Secondary teachers have some planning time before the school day starts.
The early release days and planning time will be discussed at today's principal meeting, according to Hollinger. With the additional input, the issue will go back to the school board.
email@example.com (863) 386-5826