Tensions grow as the Late Start proposal fails
By Kate Johnson
Recently principals from all three of Beulah’s schools presented their findings and proposal for a late start on Wednesdays. The time change was to fit in Professional Learning Community (PLC) meeting time into the school hours. Currently the elementary school and the high school have early dismissal every Monday to accommodate that PLC time for their staff.
This PLC time is used for staff to collaborate with each other on where their students are and where they need to get to. This gives them the opportunity to learn from each other and grow professionally to better educate students.
The issue comes to the middle school because of conflicts with the number of meetings their staff is committed to on Mondays. PLC is something the principals and school board agreed all staff must be involved with. The principals’ proposal was designed to move the early dismissal for PLC time on Mondays to being a late start on Wednesdays. Included in their proposal was that another district has used this model with great success.
With the change to the students’ start time, staff would still report to school at their normal contracted time and would meet in their PLC teams for 50 minutes (8 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.). Classes for all students would begin at 9 a.m. Wednesdays. All other days of the week would run as per usual.
The school board asked the principals to conduct a survey amongst parents and staff, looking for responses to this potential change.
At the most recent school board meeting, board members had the tallies in front of them amongst other notes. The other notes were from personal calls members of the board had received from people who had responded negatively to this potential change.
Dwight Haztenbuhler opened the discussion in support of the change. He discussed his tallies of the positive and negative responses, making the comment, “There were definitely more against it than for it.”
However, Haztenbuhler concluded that change is good, “I mean, give it a try, if it doesn’t work, there is nothing saying you have to stay with it. I’d like to try it. And all three principals feel that strong about it, I feel as a board we should support them.”
As discussion went on, other board members raised their own concerns as well as concerns of others.
Board Member Jennifer Steffan brought out the list of notes she’d taken while receiving multiple calls from elementary staff in regard to the potential change.
As she read from her list, the board and principals heard concerns of, “children would be worn out after an hour of play time,” “students are more focused in the morning so valuable instruction time would be lost,” and starting late would only allow for an hour and half instruction before lunch – which they didn’t feel was enough. Also asked was why coaches aren’t required to attend early-out PLC time when they are contracted to teach up until 3:45 p.m.