District delays recommendation on proposed Partial Release Model

Sunday, April 17, 2016

By Marianne Deal Stephens

In March, the Shoreline School District held several community meetings regarding a possible Partial Release Day Calendar Model which would change staff professional development sessions from the current full days to more frequent early release days.

At the recent Shoreline School Board meeting on April 11, 2016, Deputy Superintendent Marla Miller and representatives of a joint SEA/ District committee recommended “delaying implementation of a partial release day calendar to provide additional time for a large stakeholder group to review the proposal and address specific concerns.” For the upcoming 2016-2017 school year, the District will maintain the occasional full non-student day approach to professional development.

For background on the current model and the reasons for proposing an early release model, review the District materials regarding potential calendar changes  .

Feedback on the proposal was mixed, with teachers (SEA On-Line in the detail below) mostly supportive and parents generally less supportive of the proposed model.

Detail from April 2016 Partial Release Survey Results, Shoreline School District

Given the community reaction, the District will continue and expand the process. A stakeholder advisory group will include specialists, students, classified staff, community partners, parent/ guardians, and members of the original joint SEA/ District committee. The group will convene over several months and will issue any recommendation to the Board no later than March 31, 2017.

At the School Board Meeting, members of the joint SEA/ District committee that developed the proposed model shared their thoughts. Ridgecrest Teacher Joe Peterson was “pleased with how the committee looked at all of the ideas” and was “happy to be a part of the process.”

Einstein Teacher Wayne Smolinsky described how having a regular time for collaborations with colleagues would “give us a chance to grow student learning.” Conversations now occur “hurriedly in the morning [before school] or every six weeks.”

Shorecrest Social Studies Teacher Marcy Caruso has taught in districts with an Early Release model, and her own children have such a calendar now. While Ms. Caruso appreciates Shoreline, “educators are short on time to collaborate.” She described how the committee looked at pros and cons and acknowledges the difficult child care issues parents would have to deal with. Ms. Caruso hopes that the difficulties can be ironed out, since she is “confident that [the early release model] will positively impact Shoreline students and their learning.”

Kellogg Principal Lisa Gonzales asserted that, in middle school where students transition in and out in two years, a regularly scheduled system-wide time would be “a huge benefit that will increase student achievement.” She concluded: “All of us … want to do it well, with the respect and cooperation of the parents and community. The gains would be tremendous for all of Shoreline.”

Deputy Superintendent Marla Miller noted that joint SEA/ District group is “not a neutral committee,” and stated that we “want to have an authentic process.” The District wanted to hear what others thought about the overall concept, and hears the legitimate concerns and questions about logistics. She stated that this “isn’t a done deal” and expressed a desire to have “strong opinions” present in the advisory group, and not only those who think it is a great idea.

School Board Director Mike Jacobs is glad that the administrators realize “the importance of parents and community in the process” and commented that “circling around [and delaying any implementation] is vital.” He suggested that the group include “movers and shakers who are invested in the district” since, without community buy-in, it will not work.

Board Vice President Debi Ehrlichman praised the “good decision” to delay a recommendation. She supports teachers, but knows that there are a lot of concerns and has to “speak up for my constituents” whose childcare and transportation would be affected, and who are concerned about student contact time. Though the district has community feedback, the overall number of respondents is “pretty small” so “we need to get more input from parents,” particularly from parent groups “who may not have been able to access the meetings.”

Deputy Superintendent Marla Miller commented that the proposal which was put forward is “a starting point.” If that proposal were implemented, there would be a loss of 16 instructional hours, and she described that “a number of variables can reduce the impact.” Following the meeting, the Deputy Superintendent said that, if the model is implemented, “we want it done well.”

Notes on Community Feedback

Comments objecting to the proposal had frequent themes:
  • it will be more difficult and more expensive to get child care for a partial day than for a full day;
  • the costs will be a burden for many families; 
  • students will have less in-class time; 
  • shortened days are not effective;
  • after school care is already full, with a waitlist; 
  • elementary music and PE will be compromised;
  • the change will be awkward for after school athletes; 
  • we like the full days off for family time or adventures; 
  • students are fresh on Mondays, so it isn’t a good day for reducing time; 
  • Shoreline shouldn’t necessarily do what other districts do. 
Additional comments and questions of interest:
  • how will this affect the achievement gap? 
  • teacher-coaches would not be able to fully participate in both professional development and sports practice; 
  • the schedule would be challenging for Running Start students;
  • could high school students who take classes at both schools still commute? 
  • the impact on McKinney-Vento students should be researched.
Comments supporting the proposal had several themes:
  • the consistency of every week would be easier to deal with than the occasional day; teachers like it and we support them;
  • the teamwork (between teachers and administration) for this proposal is good; 
  • having weekly PD would positively impact teaching and student achievement; 
  • teachers who do ER in other districts use it to better serve the needs of their kids; 
  • activities or enrichment could occur on ER days; 
  • the probability of having fewer substitutes when teachers are absent for PD is positive. 
And, the community offered several suggestions:
  • do a late start rather than an early release (better for sleep, sports, making sure kids are supervised); 
  • use days from midwinter break, winter break, and spring break for professional development; 
  • eliminate or shorten midwinter break; 
  • increase length of school day; 
  • have the ER on Fridays because students are worn out and the time off can lead into the weekend;
  • have the ER on Wednesdays so people don’t take the day before/ after the weekend off; 
  • start the school year earlier; 
  • the survey is for parents— reach out to students and hear our concerns, including those about sports; 
  • have students and parents on the committee; 
  • take more time to plan. 
Many respondents said that they appreciated the opportunity to give feedback.

To view all Partial Release Day Model Survey results and comments:


3 comments:

Anonymous,  April 17, 2016 at 4:01 PM  

Other districts have had early release for years, with few-to-no issues. Most schools have after school activities available sponsored by PTA or other community groups, kids go home on the bus at the usual time, makes it easy for those parents who say they struggle with child care. Scholarships available for lower-income families if there is a fee involved. On-site day care, special art activities, special sports activities, girl scout /boy scout meetings, tutoring with community members/groups - other districts & families have made the change successfully - why not Shoreline? The first year is usually an adjustment, but after that, it is fine. Sounds to me like the district did not do a good job with outreach of information because they don't want make a change. What happens when all those waiver days are no longer approved by the state?

Anonymous,  April 18, 2016 at 7:11 AM  

My appropriate comments on the survey were deleted. What's up with that?

DKH April 18, 2016 at 1:30 PM  

Hard to say. Which Anonymous are you?

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