Early release days on pending calendars spurred discussion among the Clinton City Board of Education members Monday night, after two options were presented for approval.
The calendar selection committee presented a proposed calendar for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years during last month’s meeting, but proposed early release days throughout the year and in the middle of the week started a discussion among several board members, who in turn asked the committee to consider either moving the early release days to the beginning or end of a week or to eliminate them all together.
“Based on the board’s recommendations and concerns, as well as the needs of the students and staff, the committee is recommending approval of the presented draft one of the calendar,” Shirley Williams, director of student services, said.
The first calendar reviewed and discussed was for the 2018-2019 school year, and incorporated the required 1,025 hours of instructional time, has school beginning Aug. 27 and factors in two teacher workdays during the school year, as well as one early release day on Oct. 1 and a professional development day on Feb. 25.
The problem with the presented calendar — an early release day designated to offer teachers and administrators a chance to have professional development once students leave the campus.
“I am totally against early release days,” board member Randy Barefoot attested.
It was Barefoot who spoke up during last month’s meeting, saying early release days were not beneficial for students or staff.
“You have students who are only thinking about getting out of school early, and teachers who are thinking about the professional development they will be sitting through all afternoon,” Barefoot stated at last month’s meeting. “No good comes from an early release day.”
Butler Avenue principal Robert Turlington, who is on the calendar selection committee, spoke Monday night on behalf of the committee’s intentions and wishes, and asked that some time for professional development be built into the calendar to allow teachers the opportunity to learn more about new initiatives being handed over by the state department of public instruction.
“A professional development day is just one of many opportunities our staff will need to share the information they are learning with the entire staff,” Turlington explained.
The previously presented calendar had the early release day on a Wednesday, which all board members seemed to be against. The early release day was moved to a Monday at the board’s request.
“Early release days seem to disrupt the entire school day,” board member Jason Walters said. “Why don’t we dedicate a whole day to professional development rather than a half day and releasing students early?”
The board presented the idea to Williams, who was presenting the calendars for approval, to take the recommendation back to the committee, that the Oct. 1 early release day should be made a professional development day.
“If we can make it a full day, it would be more effective for the teachers,” board member and chairwoman Carol Worley said.
While the state requires either 180 instructional days or 1,025 instructional hours built into each school district’s calendar, Williams said the calendar being presented allowed for some wiggle room and an opportunity to make adjustments if there was inclement weather.
The board approved the presented calendar for the 2018-2019 school year, pending the change of a early release day Oct. 1 to a full professional development day.
Following the board’s action, discussion concerning the 2019-2020 calendar began, with the same concern — early release days in the middle of a week.
The presented calendar has school beginning Monday, Aug. 26, and incorporates four workdays during instructional time and two early release days. A professional development day was not designated on this calendar. Both early release days were in the middle of a week.
“As I stated before, I can’t approve a calendar that has an early release day any day of the week, but most especially a Wednesday,” Barefoot said.
Much of the same discussion concerning the 2018-2019 calendar was again discussed concerning the following year’s calendar. The board expressed their thoughts of combining the two early release days into one professional development day.
With time to discuss and work on the calendar for the 2019-2020 school year, the board tabled approval until the calendar committee could revise the calendar based on recommendations made by the board.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.