Directors approve late start for professional development
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
A rare split vote marked Mt. Pleasant Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Roederer’s final school board meeting Monday night.
Roederer never has missed a board meeting during his 20 years heading the district and in recent years has rarely seen anything but a unanimous vote on agenda items from directors.
But that was not the case last night as board member Ken Feldmann cast the lone nay vote on 90-minute late starts every Monday (beginning Sept. 9) of the 2013-14 school year for professional development.
The matter was discussed at the May meeting and referred back to the policy committee for a recommendation to be acted upon during the June meeting. The committee met earlier this month and approved Roederer’s request for the late start.
Feldmann gave notice before the vote, saying he would oppose the late start because of a lack of supporting data. “Having our teachers work with data (data teams which were implemented the past school year) and having no information on whether data teams was a good decision, what data do I have to make this decision?” Feldmann asked the board.
Roederer said more time (the school board made a three-year commitment to the data team process) will be needed to see the impact of data teams.
“There is a rich volume of research that teacher collaboration (one of the benefits of data teams, according to data team proponents) works,” added board member Lonny Morrow.
“I have no data supporting a late start (as the best approach),” continued Fedlmann.
“Do you want data on every decision we make?” teresly asked Morrow.
“I think we need professional development, but I don’t have the information to say this is the right time,” Feldmann continued. “I have basically subjective information that this (time) is best.”
Roederer said that the chosen time “is basically how the district prefers to do it. I couldn’t find any hard studies on it (professional development time).”
Board member Regina Erickson said she feels the data team approach is effective. “We made a three-year commitment to data teams. There is a lot of good discussion (among teachers during the process).”
“I am simply voicing my opinion,” Feldmann concluded. “I expect us to have sufficient information in order to make decisions and I don’t have it.”
Roederer did present an informational sheet listing the pros and cons of late start vs. early dismissal. He also said Monday was the best day to have professional development because of the potential of conflicting with block scheduling at the high school on Wednesday and numerous activities other days of the week.
Some of the major advantages, according to Roederer, of late start versus early dismissal include: no effect when classes or cancelled or shortened due to weather; no effect on practice times for cocurricular activities; no effect due to early departure time for cocurricular events; no after school impact.
Early dismissal, Roederer said, provides more supervision problems because of students remaining after school for practices/events, and accidents/incidents will remove principals from professional development time.
He said that research shows late starts actually helps secondary students focus better during the day but has the opposite effect on elementary students.
Late starts will reduce instruction time by 90 minutes on Mondays at the elementary school, 80 minutes at the middle school and 85 minutes at the high school. Meanwhile, an early dismissal would cut instruction time by 80 minutes at both the elementary and middle schools and 83 minutes at the high school.
With a late start, Monday’s classes will begin at 9:55 a.m. at the elementary school, 9:35 a.m. at the middle school and 9:50 a.m. at the high school. An early dismissal would have had classes ending at 1:50 p.m. at both the elementary and high schools and 2 p.m. at the middle school.
The district observed the late start this past year for professional development.
Board members meet again in regular session Monday, July 8, in the Central Office.