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District proposes early dismissal

HARRIET HAMILTONsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk
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SUMMIT COUNTY – Starting next fall, Summit County students may be getting a little more time on Monday afternoons for extra-curricular activities. Under a proposed plan, students will stay in class 10 minutes longer on Tuesday through Friday and be released from school 50 minutes earlier on Monday.The schedule change is motivated by the need to create districtwide educational standards and adequate student evaluation processes, Summit School District director of professional development Robin Ziperman said. The 50 minute time period each week will enable teachers to meet on a frequent, regular basis to develop standardized learning objectives and to evaluate data such as student test scores.Traditionally, this kind of professional development time for teachers in Summit schools has been limited to one day each semester. Because of the infrequency of these days, plans worked on in September are often forgotten by January.”Research shows that professional development is more effective when it’s an embedded, ongoing part of the work day,” Ziperman said.One of the major advantages of the early release plan is that it enables the school district to add more development time for teachers without costing anything. Overall face-to-face student instructional time will remain the same as will teacher contract time.Regular combination of the new 50-minute time bloc with traditional staff meeting time will give educators the opportunity to engage in much more collaboration, Ziperman said. All third grade teachers, for example, would be able to meet as a group and discuss common problems and solutions.

Ziperman sees the program as a way to improve instruction and evaluation methods in a consistent and effective way.”We don’t want the strategies and solutions to be teacher-dependent,” she said. “We want them to be system-wide.”As for what students will be doing on Monday afternoons, the district is examining potential programs. Possibilities include extended Summit Day Camp availability for younger students, extended after-school activities, such as homework club, extended after-school programs at Silverthorne and Breckenridge Recreation Centers and earlier sports practice times.The district plans to waive facility fees for community organizations that want to schedule activities during that time on Monday in an effort to encourage use of the early release time bloc.All buses will leave school at the early dismissal time.Ziperman acknowledged that the plan requires some readjustment from parents.”We hope that with giving parents so much advance notice, they can make arrangements,” she said.

The current proposal, which will be voted on by the Board of Education at its meeting on Wednesday, calls for a one-year trial period. Evaluation of the program’s effectiveness will be conducted at regular intervals throughout the school year and the school board will vote again next spring on whether or not to continue for another year.Ziperman emphasized that the basic motivation behind the program is a commitment to improving education for all the district’s students.”When you start thinking about doing whatever it takes (to improve education), it becomes a moral imperative,” she said. “How can you not do it?”Harriet Hamilton can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at hhamilton@summitdaily.com.

Proposed schedule changes for 2006/2007Tuesday-FridayMondayCurrent Elementary Schools8:45-3:558:45-3:058:45-3:45Summit Middle School8:00-3:108:00-2:208:00-3:00Summit High School7:45-2:557:45-2:057:45-2:45Parents are invited to give input on the proposed changes by sending written comments to feedback@summit.k12.co.us. Feedback can also be given by attending the school board meeting Wednesday at the Central Administration Building. Public comment at the meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.


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