Students would get out at 1 p.m. Tuesdays

The School Committee welcomed a proposal to change the schedule for elementary schools to give teachers more time to plan.

Under the proposal presented Thursday, Feb. 26, as a general outline, because it is part of negotiations with the Arlington Education Association, elementary students would get out of school every Tuesday at 1 p.m. Teachers would have common-planning time until 3 p.m. that day.

School Committee logo

A new bell schedule would be from 8:10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., about 15 minutes daily.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said the general proposal was made public before it is negotiated to give parents a head's-up. She said further details were expected in the second School Committee meeting in March and via a newsletter to parents.

Bodie called the need for planning time "really essential" and a "significant change to benefit our students."
Teachers use it to collaborate and develop ways to present curriculum. Speaking for teachers, Bodie, said, "We don't have enough time."

The plea also referred to administrators. "I can't begin to tell you how much time is spent every year on scheduling," Bodie said of principals.

The early Tuesday releases would have an impact on families, requiring new plans for their children.

More information coming; School Committee supportive

Teachers, who have been given presentations about the proposed new schedule, have supported of the plan, School Committee Chairman Bill Hayner said.

As for the school day, Hayner said: "Time-wise, it's a wash. Actual classroom time is not diminished."

Bodie said: "We all felt that such a major change in how we have organized our elementary days, we do want parents to be aware of it early on and have an opportunity to give us some feedback."

Officials emphasized that the proposal does not affect schedules for Ottoson or Arlington High.

Hayner, a retired teacher, said that when he was a student teacher in Arlington, the schools had the "exact same program."

In Lexington, where committee member Cindy Starks teaches, she has this schedule on Thursdays. She said that "once you get used to it," the change provides many benefits.

Details of proposal so far

Here are many of the details from the document provided to the School Committee:

CORE REASONS

The main reasons for considering a new elementary schedule have to do with what we have been hearing from teachers. Teachers want:

• More time to plan with each other;

• More time to collaborate with ELL, SPED, reading, literacy and math coaches;

• Fewer disruptions to the day, week and year; and

• More consistency in scheduling of meeting time.

GOALS - TEACHERS

• Increase common-planning time;

• To provide more contractual time for teachers to meet and plan together;

• To better meet needs of Common Core planning in four subject areas;

• To plan for flexible groupings;

• To better integrate literacy into social studies and science;

• To provide time for SPED, ELL, and reading teachers to meet with classroom teachers;

• To provide planning time for teachers who co-teach;

• Provide additional time for math and literacy coaches to meet with teams without interruption to schedule;

• Increase regularity of time for teachers to analyze data and adjust curriculum/instruction accordingly without interruption to schedule;

GOALS - ADMINISTRATION

• Increase access for administrators to visit grade level meetings without conflicts from other duties;

• Increase opportunity for administrators to participate in data team meetings;

• Increase flexibility in scheduling specialists since weekly, common-planning time will be integrated into the schedule

• Allows better scheduling for specialist teachers

• Provides monthly building meeting time


 This story was published Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.