The school district is seeking input from parents and the community about its late-start proposal for 30 Mondays next school year.

HOLLY M. GILL - The 509-J School District Board of Directors is considering a series of late-start days for the next school year.Next year, a proposal has been made for School District 509-J to hold late-start Mondays.

The idea was recommended by the district calendar committee to build more student learning time back into the schedule, along with time for teacher professional development and common planning and preparation time.

This year, six full days were set aside for professional development, but that didn't work well for the upper grades. "There has been a big push from secondary teachers to have more common planning time to meet," said 509-J Operations Director Darryl Smith.

Those six days have been added back into the 2017-18 calendar as student days, for a total of 168 students contact days.

Late-start days allow more time for professional development and planning, so it was recommended that 90 minutes be taken every Monday morning (except holidays, etc.) as the least disruptive solution for schools and families. Thirty Mondays during the school year would be affected.

"Monday mornings are one of our highest absent times, and taking the additional 90 minutes makes the week start on a positive note. Staff can work together to set up for a positive start to the week, and students and families have an extra 90 minutes to prepare for the start of the week," the recommendation said.

At Warm Springs K-8 Academy, working parents will be allowed to drop their children off at 7:50 a.m., and plans are being discussed to offer cultural enrichment time during the 90-minute late start time.

Board member Courtney Snead said the public should be asked if families would experience any barriers to switching to late-start Mondays.

Board member Stan Sullivan asked if other elementaries, besides Warm Springs, could provide a place for students to come at 8 a.m., like the gym, on late-start days to accommodate working parents.

In the past when the school provided gym time, Smith said, "It's hard, because of inconsistent attendance. Another option would be to have school clubs meet then."

"If it's a hardship on parents, we need to work with families," Sullivan said.

Parents wanting to give input can leave comments for board members or the superintendent on the 509-J District website, under "contacts."

In other business, board members interviewed superintendent candidates Monday and Tuesday, and made plans to do reference checks and site visits on the finalists.

Search consultant Steve Kelley suggested the district have finalists come visit local schools and personnel on April 3 and 4, and for a community forum to be held on April 3.

Under personnel, the board gave its approval of employment contract renewals or extensions for the list of recommended licensed teaching staff, and administrative staff.

Ryan Young was hired as a temporary teacher at Warm Springs K-8, through the end of the school year, and the resignation of Jefferson County Middle School math teacher Erin Potampa was accepted.

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