Snow days may be made up with adding minutes

Published 1:03 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

The Isle of Wight County school administration is looking to start elementary school classes a little bit earlier in an effort to make up for lost days.

Currently, classes at the division’s four elementary schools begin at 9:05 a.m. The division could bump that start time up to 8:50 a.m. in order to bank more seat time for its elementary students, who, after this month’s snow days, are on track to record 176 days of school this year, according to Assistant Superintendent Heather Tuck.

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Tuck briefed the School Board Thursday about the adjustment as she presented working calendars for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years.

Elementary teachers already report to work at 8:30 a.m. on regular school days, according to Tuck. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The students, currently, many of them get there at 8:35 a.m.,” Tuck said to the Board, noting that the change would not require teachers to report any earlier than they currently do. “We’re not trying to open the doors to the schools any earlier.”

Tuck said that they are working with the transportation department, which had two or three buses that needed the extra 15 minutes to get students to the schools.

The Isle of Wight County School Board’s newly-elected Vice-Chair Vicky Hulick expressed some concern about parents having to get their children to school earlier, noting the long lines of cars waiting to drop students off in the mornings.

“That line does not end until 9 o’clock,” said Hulick. “What is our projected solution for the backup?”

Tuck said that the main traffic concern would be at Carrollton Elementary.

“I think that’s just going to have to be something that the school works with,” said Tuck, adding that they would continue to work with transportation on a solution, which could include staggering the time of instructors coming in.

Tuck also went over the calendars for the upcoming school years as informational items for the Board. The calendars were put together by a committee of roughly 17 individuals “from all walks of life,” according to Tuck, including new and veteran teachers, students and parents.

The calendars show an increase in teacher work days from this year, splitting up teacher work days from professional development days, from 11 total work/professional development days in 2016-17 to potentially 19 next year, and 14 in 2018-19.

 The spike in days was largely due to “deeper learning” training, according to Tuck.

Teachers who have already completed five days of deeper learning training have the option to skip the next sessions, Tuck said, and those who still need to perform their training can choose to do four days in June, or four days in late July/ early August.

“That way we can say that all of our teachers have been trained in deeper learning and gone through what we call an ‘odyssey,’” Tuck said to the Board.

For elementary school teachers, instead of six half-days of professional development, they will have three full days spread throughout the next school year.

The division’s teachers will have a full week of professional development in June for the 2017-18 school year, instead of August, as had been scheduled previously.

“The best professional development really does come right after schools close,” said Tuck. “Let’s keep the momentum going after school ends.”

Tuck said that the most someone will work is a newly hired teacher, who will work the maximum 200 days in next year’s calendar.

The division is still in the process of gathering feedback from staff on the proposed calendars, according to Tuck.  {/mprestriction}