The Garden City USD 457 Board of Education on Monday approved the district’s 2018-19 academic calendar, altering the teacher inservice scheduling model used this year.
The 2017-18 academic schedule included seven half-days throughout the year, in which students would get the afternoon off and teachers would finish out the day in inservice sessions, which offer professional development and collaborative meetings for teachers on an individual school and district scale.
The schedule garnered some complaints, as parents and teachers with children in the school district had to work around their professional schedules to pick up or find care for their kids. Deputy Superintendent and calendar committee head Heath Hogan said some teachers also reported that the half-school day/half-inservice day model was exhausting and involved tricky scheduling for their classes.
When deciding how to structure next year’s schedule, the calendar committee — made up of three classified personnel, eight certified personnel from the high school, intermediate and middle schools and elementary schools, three building administrators and three parents or community members — decided to reach out to parents.
The committee routinely offers a survey about the current calendar to teachers and district staff, but this year made a similar survey for parents. Hogan said the online survey received roughly 300 responses, which informed the committee of the parents' two biggest issues with the calendar and the half-days: transportation and finding childcare.
The solution, which was unanimously approved by the board, was a shake-up. The seven half-days were replaced with three: one on the first day of school, Aug. 14; one the day before spring break, March 8; and one the last day of school, May 24. The district will instead hold full-day teacher inservices on the third Friday of each month — save August, March and May. The inservices will alternate between school and district-wide sessions each month, and students will get full days off on those days.
Hogan said the committee wanted to keep the days off consistent month to month, and the parents on the committee were quick to support Friday as the recurring student day off. He said the new calendar is meant to simplify scheduling for both parents and teachers. Parents and teachers won’t have to regularly juggle childcare options in the middle of work days, and teachers will be able to devote a full day’s energy to collaborating with their peers.
In other business:
• The board recognized the Jennie Barker Elementary School robotics team for qualifying for national competition. The instructor, Matthew Horney, and five of the club’s students spoke about the group and demonstrated two of their projects. The five students present will compete in the upcoming national competition.
• Renee Scott, assistant superintendent of student services, presented the Garden City High School’s concurrent enrollment program, which allows junior and senior students to earn both college and high school credit in classes at the high school. Scott said students earned a combined 1,661 college credits through the program this year.
• Roy Cessna, the district’s public information coordinator discussed the Garden City Public Schools Foundation, which provides 10 $200 grants to support learning initiatives in the district’s classrooms each school year. This semester, the foundation awarded five grants to Becky Alexander of Georgia Matthews Elementary School, Mallory Arellano at Garfield Early Childhood Center, and Mark Cruz, Emily Hamlin and Sandra Naeve at GCHS.
• In open discussion, Board member Lara Bors and Superintendent Steve Karlin addressed several legislative issues, including school funding and school safety.
Bors offered the idea that the board could issue a resolution at its next meeting taking a stand regarding a House concurrent resolution that she said would “amend the Kansas constitution to prohibit individuals from bringing suit when dealing with issues of adequacy in education funding.” She said she thought the bill was harmful.
Karlin also mentioned school safety, saying safety and security of students was a top priority. He said the issue was complicated and must involve many perspectives. He said these perspectives include not only local agencies, but also groups of Garden City students, who he soon will meet with to discuss thei perspective. Their input will be considered by the district’s crisis committee.
The next board meeting will be April 16 at the Educational Support Center.
Contact Amber Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org.