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Whitnall district collaborates with parents on scheduling plan

March 13, 2012

Greenfield - The Whitnall School District's new plan to give teachers time to collaborate by adjusting school start and release times may get revamped.

District officials have considered letting elementary students out of school early on certain days and having school start late for middle and high school students some days. But now that may depend on the results of a parent survey that the School Board approved Monday night.

Some parents have been vocal about the problems the plan, which is expected to take effect this fall, could pose for their family schedules ever since the board approved it in January.

Not enough information

Although school officials are developing programs for children who would have to stay in school on those early release days, some parents and even some School Board members said they wanted to know more about that before they could support the plan.

All those objections were voiced Monday, which spurred the board to suggest gathering parental input through a survey on the start and release times. The survey results should come back to the School Board in April.

Many school districts are seeing the value in carving out time for teachers to collaborate on curriculum and best approaches to presenting it.

With parents flooding the School Board meeting and nearly a dozen voicing their concerns, board member Bill Osterndorf said it was time to get more information.

"The reason I proposed doing a survey was there have been … a lot of legitimate questions from parents," Osterndorf said after the meeting. "We have a lot of interesting opinions, but no hard data."

Referring to those attending the meeting, he said, "We have a sampling, but no comprehensive picture of how people feel."

Osterndorf was one of three who voted against the plan in January. It was approved 4-3.

Defending the plan

Casting the only vote against a survey was board member T.J. Anderson, who was one of the four who voted for the plan in January. Anderson conceded that a certain number of parents won't like the mixed early and late arrangement for collaborative release, but it is a solid plan and will work well.

"The board has already taken action and should move on," Anderson said.

The schedule that the board approved would result in elementary students' early release from school every Wednesday. School would start late for middle and high students twice a month.

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