Archive for Monday, January 31, 2011

Another snow day would force Lawrence school district to make up for lost time

January 31, 2011, 12:06 p.m. Updated January 31, 2011, 10:45 p.m.


Next time Superintendent Rick Doll cancels classes, his bosses on the Lawrence school board will be responsible for readjusting schedules for the district’s 11,000 students.

Their choice: either add minutes to remaining school days or lengthen the school year itself.

“The school board would make any decision about making up more time,” said Julie Boyle, the district’s director of communications. “The board would decide how to do that. In the past, they’ve decided to add minutes to the remaining days.”

Because the district had built two makeup days into its schedule for weather-related cancellations, the district gets another two “free” days to cancel classes without having to make them up.

So far this year, the district’s first two cancellation days — Jan. 10 and 11 — will be made up, as planned, April 15 and 29. The district’s Jan. 20 cancellation doesn’t need to be made up, nor does today's.

The fifth and any subsequent times weather would disrupt the class schedule, either for shortened days or outright cancellations, would mean making up that time by the end of the year.

That’s because the district is required to provide 1,116 hours of time in the classroom, and any lost time in the remaining schedule would leave the district short.

It’s up to board members to see that the standard is met.

“They’re responsible for seeing that we have the right amount of instructional time,” Boyle said.

Extending school days could mean adding a couple of extra minutes each day, Boyle said. The actual calculation would depend on how much time would need to be made up and how many days would be left in the schedule.


dragonfly0221 7 years, 1 month ago

Just stop letting the kids out early on Wednesdays.

justsomewench 7 years, 1 month ago

what is the origin of that practice? i don't remember this when i was in school.

Onasis 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree completely. It don't see the point in it. I have heard it is for plan time/grading papers etc. But I have not seen any better planning, faster grading and can't even get a return call or email on Wed afternoons. So really?

justsomewench 7 years, 1 month ago

for what it's worth, i've found it helpful at the beginning of each semester with a teacher that is new to my student to stop in and meet them, ensure them that you're willing to be accessible to them and to ask the best means of reaching them, should you have any questions.

i haven't encountered a teacher yet that hasn't been willing to exchange that information and most seemed pleased to know that the parent is there for their support as well as their child's.

the guidance office is also helpful in getting information when the teacher has been buried with other duties and can't respond as timely as they'd like.

just a couple of suggestion that might help...?

Shannon Carriger 7 years, 1 month ago

Are you a teacher? If not, you can't speak to 'better planning' or 'faster grading.' Right now I get about five hours of plan time for the five classes I teach. Five hours built into my week to grade anywhere from 25-125 papers at a time. To plan lessons for the three different courses I teach, and then to accommodate and modify those lessons for the varying ability levels of the students in my classroom.

Please don't suggest teachers need less time to do our jobs. Adding a day to the end of the semester is the most equitable thing to do.

sallyone 7 years, 1 month ago

No kidding! That has to be one of the worst decisions ever made by the school board.

Sue McDaniel 7 years, 1 month ago

That one got slid in on the teacher's contract without any discussion.....just TRY taking it back.

Shardwurm 7 years, 1 month ago

They could make up time if the students were actually taught for a full day. In fact you could shave 3 more months off the school year if you did that.

justsomewench 7 years, 1 month ago

I have mixed feelings about it. While it's a scheduling inconvenience for families, the pressure has only intensified on our teachers. Between planning, grading, in-house meetings, training requirements, and budget cuts (which, if nothing else, have left so many classrooms without the para support that makes teaching children of all abilities more feasible), I will always have a hard time disparaging the teachers for bargaining for whatever tools/time they need to keep them inspired to keep our kids engaged in learning. That's no easy task. God love 'em.

jayhawk1066 7 years, 1 month ago

As an employee for the Lawrence school district, I can tell you exactly what we do Wednesday afternoons: we go to meetings. It's not like we sit around all afternoon checking our email (as someone put it). We have either district or building planned meetings. They are long and boring, but they are also necessary. Quite frankly, I would rather have kids in my classroom. So before you start talking about how your children's teachers are taking Wednesday afternoons off, perhaps you should check your facts.

Deb Engstrom 7 years, 1 month ago

Teaching is very different than it was even 35 years ago when I started. The days of closing your classroom door and doing your own thing with your students is over. Teachers have to collaborate and these early dismissal/late start times give them time to do that.

jayhawk1066 7 years, 1 month ago

Incorrect. Only the high schools have late arrival on Wednesdays, but that's only once a month and only because they get out at 2:35 on Wednesdays instead of 1:30. You should also probably know that teachers had little, if any, say in that decision.....

conservative 7 years, 1 month ago

@jayhawk1066 yes some of the time there are meetings, and some of the teachers go to them. There are also numerous incidents of teachers doing their "meetings" at bars like henry t's. Also i've seen on numerous occassions one specific teacher out doing her daily run on wednesday afternoons. Sorry but early dismissal wednesdays are a ridiculous idea that costs the district money by lengthening the school year for little gain. Yes teachers would have to do a little more planning or grading at home, but most salaried jobs paying what teachers make require more than 40 hours.

Soapbox 7 years, 1 month ago

Wednesdays are not a school day, it is a day to remember the FDR...WORLD WAR II, TRUMAN.....KOREA, JOHNSON.....VIETNAM, CARTER....IRAN HOSTAGE CRISIS, CLINTON.....WAS HIS OWN WORST ENEMY and NOW OBAMA.....THE ECONOMY OR LACK THERE OF...........YES Wednesday Lawrence school days are an invention of the liberals, look at all they have done!

Scott Morgan 7 years, 1 month ago

Not sticking up for teachers, but some high school folks do teach 0 hour which starts at 7 bells. This means they get out earlier.

smot 7 years, 1 month ago

Teachers earn every cent of their meager salaries. Why is it some people complain about everything on these forums?

hujiko 7 years, 1 month ago

Quit bashing the teachers, they work a very difficult job for far too little and have pretty much no say in the school schedule. A teacher's job does not end with the school bell, there are assignments to be graded, tests to be drawn up, powerpoints to be made, and students to assist. Allotting time for meetings is perfectly fine, it ensures that departments are adequately covering material, and that the school is functioning at a higher level. I don't think one person here criticizing teachers would last one day in the classroom. It's one thing to think you know how to handle two dozen adolescent teenagers, and then to actually try to motivate them to learn.

Jacks_Smirking_Revenge 7 years, 1 month ago

A teacher's job is difficult indeed. It's just like any other job if you are willing to put the extra work in. While I grant you that trying to motivate and educate children is trying, and dealing with adminstrative bosses that call meetings to prove their PhD is paying off can be tedious, it doesn't sound too much different than corporate America. I deal with a boss that takes up 50% of my day in meetings and I have to motivate a national sales force that act like children. No small task at all.

The biggest difference, and I think what gets most people upset is the combination of a summer holiday and tenure. While good teachers try to continually improve their methods, once tenured, there is little risk for not improving. So it's this contractual estoppel from being fired save for gross negligence that irritates many. Throw in these days off due to weather on top of the summer holiday and you can see where the frustration lies.

TL:DR Tenure + 2-3 months paid vacation makes it hard to understand when teachers complain about having to work longer days.

Shannon Carriger 7 years, 1 month ago

I love my job, but I am so disheartened by the incredibly negative attitudes in this community towards teachers.

My summer's aren't paid vacations: I read and plan lessons and work in my classroom and in my building and with students in various city programs all summer long to ensure my students are able to stay connected to me so that, when school reconvenes, they know I am still advocating for the importance of their education. And, for the record, I don't know a single teacher who would complain about adding time to the school day. If anything, I wish our day was longer so that I had more time to cover the material required of me by the following programs and organizations:

KS Board of Regents State of KS Board of Education

No Child Left Behind Race to the Top Federal Mandates Lawrence, KS School Board Parents Administrators Society at large and, at the very bottom of the list, are the students to whom I owe the most loyalty but end up giving the least amount of time.

Teachers--most of us--do this job because we believe in the inherent value in educating the generations that come after us, and we have a sincere desire to give something back to the world in a meaningful way. If you can't have any respect for that, at least respect the fact that we are doing the best we can with limited resources, and we wish things were better, too.

penguin 7 years, 1 month ago

Tenure in K-12 is not tenure in the same was as higher education. Tenured teachers can still be RIF'ed (Reduction in Force) just like any other teachers. Also tenure in K-12 is actually just access to due process rights. If an administrator does their job they can get any teacher out of their building. However, the paperwork and effort to do that usually scares them off. Feel free to look it up tenure does not exist in state law, but due process rights is the more apt name for it.

Lori Nation 7 years, 1 month ago

So tell me why most teachers I see always immediately ask for a Wednesday when they need an appointment??????

angel4dennis 7 years, 1 month ago

The way I see it, snow days should be planned on the calendar in advance. I know that most schools do this but it might be helpful to include an extra week in there since we live in Kansas. If we don't use them all, then let the kids out a week early in May/June. Better yet, I vote we go to all year around school except have every Friday off so there will always be at least a 3 day weekend. That should cover all the snow days. Or better yet, maybe it is time the educators told the State that there isn't enough funding to go to school a full week and maybe those stupid people that spent the stimulus money that Obama gave us on departments OTHER than the education that it was supposed to go to, will admit they screwed up.

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