Washington School District

Washington School District

A decision on implementing a districtwide early out/late start day for professional learning could be made at a Washington School Board workshop next week.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said the reason for releasing students early or starting school late one day or week a month is to give teachers more time to collaborate.

Prior to the workshop, VanLeer is meeting with her staff advisory committee and the salary and benefits committee to discuss the idea and gather feedback.

“Data and information from those meetings will be shared with the school board. They may take action Tuesday or just discuss it and vote on it at their regular board meeting May 30,” she said. “We just want to be able to communicate this decision with our parents and students as quickly as we can because this would be going into effect next school year.”

VanLeer said everyone agrees with the need for more collaboration due to the increased requirements on schools and higher expectations for student learning.

“We also will be implementating the state common core standards and Smarter Balanced assessments in the near future which will require a lot of staff planning, as well as our desire to embed more technology skills in lessons — for all of this to happen, we need more collaboration time among staff,” she said.

The real decision, she said, is how to best go about it within the school schedule without being too disruptive to students and families.

VanLeer said a set early out or late start day also will help the district solidify its professional learning communities already in place.

“It’s so important for staff to have common time to work together,” she said, “and it’s something many other schools are already doing.” For example, the Union School District and St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, as well as many other St. Louis area school districts, currently have early out days for professional development.

“This is a time for teachers to develop assessments, analyze data . . . and begin to implement the state common core standards,” she said.

VanLeer first presented the schedule change to the board in April. At that time, several school board members said they would be in favor of it, with most preferring an early out day instead of a late start day.