Pencil in Dec. 4 for what could be a lively discussion about whether the Wake County school system should hold early release days on Wednesday or Fridays.
As noted in today's article, the school board's executive committee has put the early release issue on the agenda for the Dec. 4 board work session. The board's Democratic majority has the votes to push through a change but whether they want to risk any appearance of a scaled-back return to Wacky Wednesdays/Wake Wednesdays remains to be seen.
Aside from the argument from supporters that Wednesdays would be better for promoting student achievement, you're also likely to hear that they're only talking about six Wednesdays per student and not every week.
School board member Christine Kushner seemed pretty supportive of moving the early release days to Wednesday during this month's student achievement committee meeting. But in an interview this week she said she's undecided and wants to talk about it more with other board members and staff.
If she listens across the political aisle to board member John Tedesco, she'll hear him advocate for leaving the early release days on Friday.
Tedesco said he doesn't see a difference in the quality of staff development if it's held on a Wednesday as opposed to a Friday. He noted that teachers are still required to stay in after-school regardless of which day the early releases are held.
In a situation where there's no difference on staff development, Tedesco said the focus should be on what’s best for families.
“My concern is how are we impacting our families,” Tedesco said. “It’s better to give them the Friday option.”
But Larry Nilles, president of Wake NCAE, said there is a clear advantage to holding the early release days on Wednesdays instead of Fridays.
First, Nilles said that it's easier to invite people in from the outside the area to provide professional development when it's on a Wednesday. it's especially easier than when the Friday that's being used for early release is before a Monday holiday.
Second, Nilles said holding the early release days on Wednesday means that teachers can immediately apply what they learn on Thursday when classes resume. By having the training on Friday, he said teachers have to wait until after the weekend to go back into class.
"It really comes down to what’s the better day of the week for professional development,” Nilles said. “Most of our members agree Wednesday is a better day.”
Comments were made during the Nov. 8 student achievement committee meeting that teachers would be "more attentive" to the training if it's done on Wednesday compared to Friday. Nilles said workers in general, not just teachers, are more likely to be attentive during the middle of the week than at the end.
Nilles said Wake NCAE hasn't been pressing for the district to go back to using Wednesdays for early release but does support the idea. He said it seems to be more of a concern from principals. That fits in with what was said at the student achievement committee about there being "widespread interest" among principals to use Wednesdays.
One thing to consider is that none of the other Triangle districts do early releases for staff development on Fridays.
The Johnston County school system scatters the early dismissals on different days — Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system opens school two hours late one Thursday a month for the teacher training time.
The Durham and Orange County school systems release students two hours early on a handful of Wednesdays.
“We thought on Wednesdays people are fresher and more focused,” said Michael Gilbert, an Orange County schools’ spokesman.