Proposed school calendar allows parent-teacher time Plan calls for 4 days off, early dismissals

November 15, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

County school officials are considering a major change to the school calendar for the 1997-1998 year that could provide time

most months for parent-teacher conferences or teacher training.

The proposal gives students the day off four times throughout the year, and dismisses them early four other days, so that teachers can meet with parents or take part in staff development.

Another change proposed is to build in five snow days -- compared to the usual three or four.

If they weren't used by April, the days would be added to spring break.

The school board could vote as early as January on the proposed calendar, which will be discussed at the board's next meeting Dec. 11.

Traditionally, elementary schools have had parent-teacher conferences once a year, on the days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday, such as the Wednesday before and the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

But elementary school principals say that's too late in the year, and not often enough, said Judith Walker, principal of Hampstead Elementary School.

"Thanksgiving is too far after the first marking period," Walker said. "They've had the report cards for a full month by then. The sooner into the year we can have conferences with parents, the better."

The proposal would have conferences by Oct. 1, with a two-hour early dismissal. That is when the first marking period ends. Middle and high schools might use the time for professional development.

Between the four days off and the four days with early dismissal, almost every month of the school year has a day or afternoon set aside for training or parent conferences, said William Rooney, director of personnel.

Walker said it is likely that if the board approves such a schedule, school improvement teams at each school would start looking at how to use the days. The proposal would give discretion to each principal, Rooney said.

"The elementary principal group has been trying to see some changes made to the calendar for the last few years," Walker said. She said staff members want time for more of both: conferences and staff development. But this proposal is a good start, she said.

The snow day plan is one the school board tried to institute for the current school year, but couldn't fit five days into the 1996-1997 calendar.

For next year, Rooney's proposal is a calendar that has 185 days, allowing for five to be called for snow and still have the state-required 180.

If by April those five snow days aren't used, they would be added to the spring break surrounding Easter.

In the calendar proposed, only Good Friday and Easter Monday would be off. Unused snow days will be tacked on as days off after Easter. If schools are closed for more than five days, school days in the spring could have longer hours.

Another proposed change is for students and teachers to be off on Presidents Day. Traditionally, students have been off and teachers attended staff development.

Rooney, whose proposed calendar is likely to be changed by the board, noted one rule in devising a schedule for the school year.

"You can't please everybody," he said.

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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