On the street
They should have at least five hours per week so they have an hour each day. But really they should have more. I get 90 minutes a day, and I only have to cover one subject.
It's a discussion several years old about how to find more planning time for Lawrence public school teachers.
Elementary teachers have long said their current time of 190 minutes per week for planning is inadequate. In comparison, high school teachers get 325 minutes for planning per week.
"If you want to do the extra things that develop the new lessons with the details and planning that it takes, there's just not enough time," said Ginny Turvey, a fourth-grade teacher at Broken Arrow School, who has taught there more than 30 years.
She said the 40 minutes per day, includes requiring teacher to drop off students at specials - like art, music or physical education classes. A bathroom break can also cut it down to 30 minutes. But teachers have to do much more than plan lessons; they have to answer messages or notes from parents and check in with administrators, among other duties.
"For me, I do it after school. I do it on my own time," Turvey said.
Elementary teachers get 30 minutes to plan on Wednesday because schools are required to participate in collaboration time, a chance to give classroom teachers time to meet with special education and English as a Second Language teachers, for example.
"We are coming up with things we need to do to better serve children," said Lawrence Education Association President Adela Solis, a Cordley School ESL teacher.
School district leaders have recognized the disparity between planning time for secondary and elementary teachers. It has been a topic in contract negotiations, and a committee of teachers and administrators have studied the issue.
During this year's negotiations, both sides have indicated they want to get something done for next year, but two things have kept them apart on an agreement: the cost and how much extra time is available
"It just comes back to how many dollars get put into that, which comes back to how many days are available," said administrator Frank Harwood, the school board's chief negotiator.
Administrators say giving more planning time would require schools to hire more staff to take the students during new planning time.
During the most recent talks, board negotiators offered two extra days planning time for elementary teachers, spread out through the year, estimated to cost $324,000. LEA negotiators said they could accept a two-year pact for two extra days next year if planning time is increased five days for 2009-2010.
Board negotiators said they couldn't commit that much funding for 2009-2010 at this point.
Overall, a mediator will likely be brought in to negotiating sessions later this summer because the two sides are more than $1 million apart on salary increase offers for next year.
But planning time has been a major issue in talks.