So will a concerted effort to explain professional learning communities smooth over complaints that many parents have over the new bell schedules?
As noted in today's article, that's the hope of school board members, teachers and administrators who supported dismissing schools one hour early every Wednesday and increasing the number of early release days.
"Once the community knows what it wlll be used for they’ll be able to buy into it with a better heart," said school board member Patti Head.
Three teachers who served on the 40-member time committee that recommended the changes stressed that they had a broad range of membership in the group, including parents.
“Any time you have change you have challenges," said Zora Felton, a Leesville Road High science teacher and member of the time committee. "Changes that are important will meet those challenges."
In theory, this is how things will work on Wednesdays.
During the weekly one-hour early dismissals, teachers will meet in professional learning communities.
On those six Wednesdays when classes get out 2 1/2 hours early for early release, teachers will meet for staff development.
On more than a few occasions Tuesday, board members questioned staff why they couldn't move the early dismissals or at least the six early release days to Friday. That's something that a lot of parents asked about as a compromise for getting the new schedule.
Chief Academic Officer Donna Hargens said the teachers and principals on the time committee strongly felt that Fridays wouldn't be desirable. They persuaded the parents on the committee to back them.
Supt. Del Burns said they need to remember that the purpose of the PLC time is "adult learning." He thought that teachers would be better able to do the sessions earlier in the week.
Board member Beverley Clark said they're more likely to get “dynamic discussion” from teachers in the middle of the week. For instance, she said teachers would be more willing to stay later for these sessions in the middle of the week than on a Friday when they want to join their families.
Board member Eleanor Goettee, a retired teacher, added that it would send a wrong message to teachers to have it on Fridays.
Board member Lori Millberg countered about what message it would send to parents holding those days on Wednesdays.
Goettee responded that "you can’t forget the human resources component."
Millberg retorted that "we ask an awful lot from parents.”
Despite the parental complaints, only board member Ron Margiotta voted against the changes.
"The public is not on board with this issue," Margiotta said during the work session. "I feel an obligation to properly represent the public on this issue.”
In the end, the board said they were doing it to help the children.
“It’s the right thing to do for student achievement," Goettee said.
Clark said "we need to help the community connect some of the dots" on why PLCs are so benefical.