Proposed Calendar: 2018-2019 School Year
The proposed 2018-2019 calendar takes into account many of the requests from families, faculty, and staff over the past years.
The proposed calendar has 10 fewer student attendance days to allow families more flexibility in the school calendar, and to allow faculty staff additional time and opportunities for professional learning, training, and collaboration.
FAQs are available below, and stakeholders are encouraged to contact the Superintendent's Office at 822-3234 ext 223 with questions. Click here to submit comments about the proposed calendar via this form.
UPDATE: The Board of Education will discuss the the calendar proposal at the March 6th meeting. The public comment period has been extended through Tuesday, March 27th, with comments being reviewed by the Board prior to the April meeting.
FAQs: Proposed 2018-2019 Calendar
How is the proposed 2018-2019 calendar different from previous calendars?
The most significant change is related to the number of student attendance days. Previous CRSD calendars have included 170 student attendance days and 183 days for teachers (including in-service and work days). The proposed calendar for 2018-2019 includes 160 student attendance days. The number of teacher days does not change (remains at 183).
Why is a new calendar structure being proposed?
For a couple of reasons: First of all, faculty and staff members have limited amounts of time for training, planning, and collaboration...and they need more time than is currently available. The nature of our small schools means that time for planning and training embedded into the school day is difficult to find. Larger chunks of time, in the form of in-service days, allow for more in-depth opportunities for professional learning and collaboration. Secondly, students in the CRSD sometimes miss school for travel to appointments, and/or for subsistence and cultural activities. Reducing the number of student days and spacing long weekends throughout the school year allows families with more opportunities to attend to other responsibilities and obligations without missing school days. All in-service days have been strategically place to match up with holidays (when parents and guardians may have the day off from work) and to coincide with professional development conferences and trainings that happen at the same time each year.
do any other districts have 160 Student attendance days?
Alaska's Lake and Peninsula School District reduced their student attendance days for the 2017-2018 school year from 170 days to 150 days (10 fewer days than is being proposed in the CRSD). Lake and Pen's calendar change was initially intended as a cost-saving measure. However, the district has found that families appreciate the extra time for subsistence activities, for travel, etc., and the teachers have benefitted from the additional planning, training, and collaboration time. The district has seen an increase in student attendance this year. You can learn more about Lake and Pen's change in this ADN article.
aren't districts required to have a certain number of student attendance days?
State statute requires a minimum of 170 student attendance days. However, districts can apply for waivers to this requirement. Alaska Commissioner of Education Michael Johnson is supportive of the CRSD's proposal based on the belief that carefully-planned, excellent instruction will result in more learning than additional seat time that has not been as intentionally planned. Teachers who have more time to grow as professionals, collaborate, and prepare for amazing classroom instruction and student learning experiences will have classrooms where more learning occurs.
how would the extra in-service days be used?
The traditional calendar has 10 in-service days. Of those ten days, two days are set aside for parent-teacher conferences; two days at the beginning of the year are for back-to-school planning meetings; one day is for mandatory trainings; one day is for state testing training; the one near the end of the year is devoted to forward-planning and the remaining four days are for site-specific and district-wide trainings. This is not enough time for faculty and staff to engage in the level of professional learning, collaboration, and planning needed to fully engage in the initiatives related to the district's new strategic plan. In addition, in-service days have been scheduled to overlap with nearly all of the statewide professional development meetings and conferences that otherwise take teachers out of classrooms and away from students during the school year. Additional in-service days will allow us to provide additional trainings and workshop time related to curriculum, teaching tools, and instructional strategies for both certified and classified staff. In addition, one additional day has been devoted to parent-teacher conference meetings. Time for instructional planning and collaboration will allow teachers to more thoroughly prepare for their instructional duties, and they will be better able to use student learning data to guide their planning (a very time-consuming process!). The additional in-service days would provide unique opportunities for intervention and enrichment for individual and small groups of students, as well, via tutoring and study hall, e-learning work time, special interest workshops, and more.
We just increased the length of the school day. Why are we now Looking at taking days away?
In response to concerns expressed by teachers about our short school day (previously 8:50-3:10), CRSD schools added 30 minutes to the day at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year to allow for more time during each instructional day for more non-core opportunities for students, including the science, social studies, the arts, and physical education. A longer school day has made a huge difference, and teachers (especially those at the elementary level) have reported great gains in being able to fit more into a single day. On the flip side, increasing the student day for students removed 30 minutes of paid planning time from each teacher's day. Adding 30 minutes per day for students resulted in the equivalent of 12 extra days of instruction this year, so even if the student attendance days are reduced to 160, it will still be the equivalent of two more days of instruction that we had prior to the fall of 2017. A relevant comparison is to when one is doing a chore or project at home: There is only so much that can be completed in a small chunk of time, but when an extended period of time is made available, the amount that can be completed grows exponentially.
won't reducing the number of student days impact classified employees' pay?
Classified employees work on an hourly basis and are only at work on student attendance days. Thus, some have been concerned about lost wages if students attend school for fewer days. One of the district's greatest challenges is in finding time to provide training and support for our classified employees. Traditional in-service days are focused on teacher training and, in most cases, instructional aides and secretaries do not work on these days. Additional in-service days provide the district with more opportunities to provide job-specific training for our classified employees, as well as targeted times for instructional aides to meet with teachers to review student learning progress and adjust interventions. Furthermore, classified employees could support extended learning opportunities for students by working on some of the in-service days to run intervention and tutoring groups, enrichment projects, e-learning lab work sessions, supported study halls, and more.
Will fewer student days mean financial savings to the district?
Reducing the number of student attendance days from 170 to 160 could result in some financial savings. If the district is able to renegotiate the school transportation contract, we could see some savings. Some classified staff members may choose not to engage in professional learning opportunities and extra training, so this could result in some savings. Ten fewer student attendance days would result in small savings on hot lunch program expenses on the Glennallen campus. There may be small savings in electricity as large spaces (e.g., gyms, multi-purpose rooms) in the schools would not be used on in-service days. While the CRSD is not proposing fewer student attendance days as a cost-saving measure, the savings would allow us to direct those funds to classroom project expenses, stipends for additional Treks and elementary special-interest activities (such as art classes, STEM projects, etc.), costs associated with additional professional development for teachers, etc.
will fewer student days impact student learning?
Yes, but probably not in the way most people would think. Additional in-service days have the potential to increase the quality and rigor of classroom instruction and student support from both certified and classified staff. Thus, students may learn more in less time as a result of more carefully planned instruction, better content scaffolding and integration, and carefully considered academic support. In addition, additional in-service days will provide families with more opportunities to take care of appointments and family responsibilities without missing school attendance days, resulting in better student attendance. As one of our school board members said, "If 10 days is the difference between students being successful and not being successful, we have bigger problems to consider."
WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHAT OTHER QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE?
Please provide feedback on the proposed calendar via this link. There is also an opportunity for additional questions to be asked via the survey. Additional FAQs will be posted on this page. Want to know more? Please stop by, email, or call the Superintendent's Office at 822-3234 ext 223 at your convenience.