Schools will keep late-start Mondays

District plans to study an alternative during the year

Students can continue to sleep in an extra hour every Monday.

The Sequim School District board of directors unanimously approved to keep the 2015-2016 academic schedule the same as previous years on July 20.

As a result, Sequim schools will start one hour later every Monday compared to the rest of the week to allow teachers time for professional development.

“Ultimately, we didn’t want to do away with the professional development,” Beverly Horan, Sequim School District board president, said. “Since we had some room this year to keep the late-start on Mondays, we decided to stay with that.”

The board discussed eliminating late-start Mondays in mid-June in reaction to a 1,080-hour minimum state requirement for students. However, former Superintendent Kelly Shea later discovered state officials aren’t holding districts to the 1,080-hour minimum just yet.

In deciding whether or not to pursue a scheduling adjustment now or later, Sequim schools hosted an online survey that spawned more than 780 responses indicating late-start Mondays were not as much a hardship on local families as anticipated, Shea said.

The survey results “were kind of a surprise to us,” Marilyn Walsh, the superintendent’s administrative assistant, said.

In grappling with the possibility of forgoing late-start Mondays, district officials proposed the concept of moving 20 of the 30 minutes teachers are on campus after school to the beginning of the day, all five days of the working week.

The new time configuration would give teachers 50 minutes of professional development time each day, but it also would change the daily schedule for students. With the exception of Greywolf Elementary, students would start and end school 20 minutes later.

Because the discussion of a different daily schedule surfaced a couple of weeks before the end of the school year, Walsh said, there wasn’t really enough time to thoroughly review the change.

“We need more time to talk with all the stakeholders,” she said. “A 20-minute difference at the beginning of the day and end doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it has a lot of implications that need to be considered.”

Shortly following the board’s discussion of a possible scheduling change, district officials received a “panic call” from personnel with Aspire Academy because of scheduling conflicts, which Walsh gave as an example of some of the organizations potentially impacted.

Another issue that arose from the possible restructure is a likely conflict with students’ sports schedules during away games. Already, Walsh said, students often have to leave their last period early to depart for away sports games, so if students are released 20 minutes later than before, they would miss nearly their entire class.

District officials will be gathering feedback from teachers, unions, parents and bus drivers to better understand the impacts of a possible change in the future.

To evaluate alternatives for the 2016-2017 school year, Gary Neal, interim superintendent for Sequim School District, and his colleagues plan to review and study the different options and time configurations that both meet start requirements and allow time for professional development, Horan said.

“We need to take several weeks to really review this and decide on something in early winter so people know and can be prepared before registration,” Walsh said.

 

Reach Alana Linderoth at alinderoth@sequimgazette.com.