USD 457 officials vote on 2013-14 school calendar
By RACHAEL GRAY
USD 457 officials have recommended the calendar for the 2013-14 school year be similar to this year's calendar.
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 Steve Karlin, USD 457 deputy superintendent, 68 percent of staff opted in favor of a calendar similar to this year's.
Karlin said as part of the negotiated agreement, the calendar committee gets the opportunity to develop an alternative calendar.
"They're charged with developing at least two traditional calendars and have the chance to develop an alternative calendar as part of the process, " he said.
The two traditional calendars are voted on, then the one with the most votes is pitted against the alternative calendar.
The alternative calendar had 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 of the requirements in the negotiated agreement.
"But it still needs to meet state standards," Karlin said.
The Board of Education then has the ability to set the calendar in place after the recommendation. That likely will be at the April 15 board meeting.
Karlin said the board applauds the work the committees do.
"The board always has been good about valuing committee work in our district," he said.
During the school year, the teachers have five days when students are not in the building. 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 of the teachers didn't think an hour each Wednesday was meaningful. The committee also explored the idea of doing 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 inservice 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 inservices 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.
"Inservices don't have to happen in seven-hour blocks. Research tells us most effective professional development is job-imbedded with targeted, ongoing training. This gives the teachers the opportunity to use that time," he said.
Classes for the current school year started Aug. 21, 2012. For next school year, the first day of school will be Aug. 19.