Time is precious for elementary school teachers.
As soon as their students leave the classroom to attend "specials" - either art, music or physical education - the clock starts ticking.
The teacher has 40 minutes to check e-mails, make phone calls, respond to a parent, go to the restroom and make plans for five to six subject areas for the next day.
Those 40 minutes a day - 30 minutes on Wednesdays - are not enough to get lessons ready for reading, writing, math, spelling, social studies and science, teachers say.
"It's impossible," says Adela Solis, a Cordley School teacher and president of the Lawrence Education Association.
"I've been teaching for 20 years and I end up going up on the weekends and doing my planning for the following week," Solis said.
For that reason, an effort is under way to increase planning time for elementary teachers to between 60 and 65 minutes a day.
But that increase will come at a cost.
The Lawrence School Board and LEA have formed a 10-member Elementary Plan Time Committee to study the issue.
"Right now, teachers receive planning time through specials, which are art, music and P.E.," said Tom Christie, executive director of educational programming and curriculum for the Lawrence School District.
Christie, a member of the committee, said the goal is to give elementary teachers the same amount of time as junior high teachers, who get between 60 and 65 minutes a day.
During the last meeting of the Elementary Plan Time Committee, the panel brainstormed a few ideas, he said. The committee meets again Wednesday.
"We'll probably look at each of those for the impact on cost and learning and other areas that would affect achievement," Christie said.
Christie said the goal is to have a report back to the negotiating teams for the LEA and the school district by Feb.1.
Dan Karasek, Prairie Park Elementary School fifth-grade teacher, discusses the effort to get more planning time for elementary teachers in Lawrence.
Solis said the problem stems from the nature of elementary teachers' jobs.
"In secondary, you have class periods. So it's easier to free someone up for a period or two," Solis said. "Whereas in elementary, the kids are with me all day long."
Another Elementary Plan Time Committee member, Dan Karasek, a fifth-grade teacher at Prairie Park School, said it was unclear how much it would cost the district.
"If I'm going to have more time, that means my students will be somewhere else in the building with an adult," Karasek said. "And we don't now have adults sitting around doing nothing, so it would require a cost to have a few more staff people. Which way it goes, as to what those people would be teaching and what they would be doing, is what our committee has to discuss."
Karasek said committee members have several ideas.
"Certainly, there's a movement on toward wellness and health and more physical activity for kids," he said.
However, there's a flip side to giving teachers more planning time. It would mean less time for teachers to have with students, Karasek said.
Adults who take over for teachers might need to teach some of the content areas, such as science or social studies, he said.
The committee will have to weigh each idea carefully, he said.
But the goal would be to lessen teachers' homework.
"I'm not sure if we would get rid of all of that, but it would help," Karasek said.