The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 21, 2014

Neosho students may attend classes half day on Fridays next school year

Officials: Move would allow more time for teacher training

NEOSHO, Mo. — Neosho School District Superintendent Dan Decker on Monday night told the Board of Education that he will propose for next school year a half day of school for students on Fridays.

He said the release time would be 12:20 p.m. Now, Friday dismissal is an hour earlier than the rest of the week, at 2:20 p.m. Depending on the school, the start time for students is 7:45 to 8 a.m., and release time Mondays through Thursdays is 3:10 to 3:20 p.m.

The idea is more planning and collaboration time for teachers, he said.

Decker said the initial reaction from parents he has heard from has been in opposition.

“People are very concerned about the loss of face time with students,” he said.

Board President Brett Day said he also had received calls from parents, primarily about how to provide child care for their children.

Decker said he’s working for the district to try to provide child care options for parents, including the possibility of using grant funds or enlisting school paraprofessionals for an after-school program.

During a break in the meeting, Decker said he started the practice when he was superintendent in Aurora, and it’s still done there. He said teachers knew there would be a specific time for professional development, rather than trying to schedule and remember a time from one week to the next.

“It will give staff more collaboration time,” Decker said. “It will give teachers time for professional development.”

He said the state requires students to be in school at least 1,044 hours during a school year. His plan provides 1,070 hours of school time.

“We’ll meet that requirement,” Decker said.

Spring Smith, Central Elementary School PTO president, said she had heard of the idea only minutes before being asked about it by a reporter, so she hadn’t fully thought it through. She said the child care aspect doesn’t concern her because she is a stay-at-home mom, but when she re-enters the work force, she may have a different opinion.

“I can see it from both standpoints,” Smith said. “I’m all right with it.”

Valerie Garrett, PTO president at Carver Elementary School, said she is in favor of the plan. She said she has heard positive comments from other parents. She said it was good that the school district was getting the word out early so parents can make arrangements.

“It seems pretty positive,” Garrett said. “Personally, I can just leave on my lunch break to pick up my kids. They already get out early on Fridays, and this only moves it back a couple of hours.”

Garrett said she volunteers at the schools, and teachers often use substitute teachers to cover their classrooms when they schedule training time. She said the substitutes are good, but it’s not the same as having the regular classroom teacher.

“I know it makes a big difference when they have a sub,” she said. She said the prearranged teacher training time on Fridays would avoid that practice.

Finland’s way

NEOSHO SUPERINTENDENT DAN DECKER said Finland sometimes is seen as a country with an ideal education system. He said that in his conversations with a graduate student from Finland, he learned that schoolchildren there are in class about 600 hours a year. Information from the Center for Public Education supports Decker’s numbers.

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