SCHOOL COMMITTEE NEWS In Compromise Next Years First Week Of School Likely

first_imgThe School Committee is expected to vote on the 2019-2020 school calendar at its next meeting on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email WILMINGTON, MA — At Wednesday night’s meeting, the Wilmington School Committee held a follow-up conversation to last month’s discussion of potentially changing the 2019-2020 school year calendar.The biggest proposed change would see the first three days of school become early release days, rather than full days.“While students will be dismissed according to the Early Release Schedule, staff will remain and these days would be designated as ‘building-based’ to allow for the following: (1) time for general education teachers to meet with Special Education staff to review student plans and program requirements; (2) the opportunity for staff to review 504 plans for students; (3) the opportunity for teachers to receive and review recent test data and any other important information that can help support the transition of students,” Brand explained when rolling out the proposal.Some school committee members, however, expressed reservations around three consecutive early releases, arguing it may be a burden for some families to have to for arrange a childcare during the first week of school.On Wednesday night, the School Committee signaled it was interested in a compromise schedule, requesting that Superintendent Brand bring the School Committee another calendar option that had only ONE early release day during the first week of school.  Whether the early release would be on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday was not discussed.“I’ve become more and more uncomfortable with having all three days be early release days,” said School Committee member David Ragsdale. “We’re already starting with a 3-day week. For all of those days to be early release days, our first week of school is just three half days. It’s hard to set expectations when students haven’t seen a full day.”“We’re clearly working with a lot of contraints here – contractual issues, different school times, parents needing to find childcare. Whichever way you turn, there’s going to be some sort of issue that can’t be maximized,” added Ragsdale. “Ultimately, in totality, you try to do what’s best for the kids. What’s the least bad option in front of us. I’d like to request an option that has one early release day & two full days in the first week of school; and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as a vacation day.”“The two calendars aren’t really going to meet our needs,” echoed School Committee Vice Chair Jennifer Bryson. “I will make a motion for a third calendar option to provide for one early release day and two full days… I respect that Dr. Brand came up with something new and different… As a teacher and someone who trains teachers, I can say that one day [for teacher preparation] is simply not enough.”“If the Committee could support any additional CIT time in the calendar, I think that would have considerable benefits for us,” responded Brand. “Whether that’s 1 day, 2 days or 3 days, anything additional would be quite helpful.”The motion to ask Superintendent Brand to present a calendar option with one early release day during the first week of school, and for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to be a non-school day, carried unanimously.Brand also clarified a key question that was raised during last month’s meeting — CARES WOULD be operational during the first week of school, BUT is structured so that the program would be available to the child only if the family signed him or her up for that particular day of the week. If the early release falls on a day that the children doesn’t use CARES, he or she would be unable to participate in the program.Parent and educator Teresa Smith was the only audience member to speak. She opposed early release days during the first week of school. Smith cited educational research that stressed the importance of establishing standards, norms and routines for students during the start of the school year.Survey ResultsSuperintendent Brand and School Committee members also reviewed the results of surveys taken by community members and staff members regarding the school calendar.Key highlights from the community survey results:27.51% of community members support early release days during the first week if known by April 1. 20.7% support of CARES is an option. 20.87% prefer to see as few early release days as possible. 41.42% are open to scheduling early release days when knowing that the next district-wide day is at the end of January.39.79% of community members prefer the school year start AFTER Labor Day. 41.16% prefer the school year begin BEFORE Labor Day. 19.36% don’t care.46.65% of community members prefer that the Friday before Labor Day remain a non-school day. 22.14% of community members prefer it be a school day. 32.21% don’t care.56.93% of community members prefer that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving become a non-school day. 43.07% do not.23.25% of community members prefer to have Good Friday continue as a holiday. 34.95% of community members do not. 42.71% don’t care.Key highlights from the staff survey results:14.29% of staff members are interested in starting the school year AFTER Labor Day. 72.67% prefer the school year begin BEFORE Labor Day. 13.04% don’t care.91.36% of staff members prefer the Friday before Labor Day remain a non-school day. 1.85% do not. 6.79% don’t care.60.25% of staff members support making the Wednesday before Thanksgiving a non-school day. 40.37% do not.40.75% of staff members prefer to have Good Friday continue as a holiday. 20.99% of staff members do not. 38.27% don’t care. 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