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Students could see shorter school days

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By John Foster

Students may see some school days cut short in 2009-10.

Oldham County Board of Education members are considering a plan that would send students home two hours early on six days during the 2009-10 school year. 

That time will allow school faculty to perform some much needed work, Assistant Superintendent Anita Davis told the board. 

Teachers and staff will only be allowed to use that time to gather in professional learning communities. 

It won’t be a time for faculty meetings or for teachers to perform individual tasks, Davis said.

Teachers currently meet for professional learning communities before or after school, often conflicting with coaching or other duties and adding to a full workload that often includes grading papers at home, Davis said.

“This will allow them to take a time-out,” she said.

Under this proposal, elementary students will start school five or six minutes earlier than now. Bus schedules won’t be affected, since students arrive at school prior to that time anyway, she said.

Middle and high school students will have 12 fewer hours of instructional time, but Davis believes the benefits in the staff’s teaching ability outweighs time lost.

She said there will be a level of inconvenience for parents, but said school staff are trying to minimize that inconvenience by offering extended hours in after-school programs and granting requests when possible for alternate bus drop-offs.

It is also a time when students can schedule doctor’s appointments so they won’t have to miss class, according to information distributed to board members.

As for the rest of the calendar, a committee surveyed about 2,300 staff, parents and students to determine what they would like to see,  Deputy Superintendent Charleen McAuliffe said. 

Eliminating fall break isn’t a popular option, she said.

“There was almost universal agreement not to do away with fall break,” she said.

The proposed calendar will start the same day as this year, Aug. 12. The last day – without any snow days – will be May 24, 2010.

The board is considering whether to schedule classes  Feb. 16, 2010 and March 16, 2010 and ending the school year two days earlier, at the request of school board member Larry Dodson.

Other than early release days, the major change under this proposal will alter high school semesters. Fall semester classes would end before Christmas break.

Davis said the change leads to a longer spring semester, but CATS testing in the spring semester previously made things lopsided the other direction.

Board members will vote on the proposed calendar at the next school board meeting – 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at East Oldham Middle School.

E-mail us about this story at: jfoster@oldhamera.com