By RACHAEL GRAY
Next year, students and staff at USD 457 will have a similar calendar to this year's.
The Board of Education met Friday morning and passed the measure among other consent agenda items.
The calendar was proposed by the calendar committee and USD 457 staff voted between a calendar similar to this year and an alternative calendar that would have dismissed students an hour early every Wednesday for teacher work time.
According to USD 457 Deputy Superintendent Steve Karlin, 68 percent of staff favored a calendar similar to this year's.
As part of the negotiated agreement, Karlin said the calendar committee gets the opportunity to develop an alternative calendar.
The two traditional calendars are voted on, then the one with the most votes is pitted against the alternative calendar.
The alternative calendar featured the option of dismissing students an hour early each Wednesday so teachers could have in-service sessions.
The alternative calendar doesn't have to meet all the requirements in the negotiated agreement but still needs to meet state standards.
During the school year, the teachers have five days when students are not in their buildings. Those days are set aside for professional development.
Had the committee recommended the alternative calendar, the school year would have been 178.5 days instead of 174 days to make up the Wednesday class hours, Karlin said.
He said many teachers didn't think an hour each Wednesday was meaningful.
The committee also explored the idea of conducting an hour and 50 minutes of development every other Wednesday.
Karlin said with that idea, teachers were concerned parents would be confused which Wednesdays would have early dismissals.
Next year's plan does go back to a concept the district has previously used.
If a teacher puts in professional development that is relevant to their position during nights, weekends or other in-service days, certain days become optional if they meet a certain amount of hours.
Karlin said, for example, the Monday after Easter in 2014 is set as an inservice day.
If teachers attend other in-services outside their normal time on the weekends, before school starts or at night, they basically make up that time, he said.
Karlin said the idea behind that is studies prove it makes professional development more efficient.
Classes for the current school year started Aug. 21, 2012. For next school year, the first day of school will be Aug. 19.