Plan may mean fewer early-release days for 2006-07 school year | NevadaAppeal.com
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Plan may mean fewer early-release days for 2006-07 school year

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer

Working parents could look forward to fewer early-release days in the 2006-07 school year if the Carson City School District Board votes tonight to decrease them from 15 to eight.

Early-release days are used for professional development for teachers.

“The principals felt that (professional development) was a good use of time, but the trade-off of kids going home early was lost teaching time,” said Mike Watty, associate superintendent of educational services for the Carson City School District. “They wanted to make sure we had an opportunity for better balance.”

Professional development was first approved in the Carson school district for the 2005-06 year. Students are released from school twice a month on Wednesdays during those weeks with no major holidays.

Teachers spend the afternoon in a variety of activities from reviewing test scores on tests to discussing ways to better meet the standards.

The new proposal is just what Dennis Beeghley, a fifth-grade teacher from Seeliger Elementary School, would recommend.

“I personally would think that one day (a month) would be enough,” he said. “There’s just so much we have to do.”

Professional development time is useful and he would not recommend eliminating it, he said, but he wants the time geared more toward hands-on activities that could benefit the classroom.

“I think we need to have more practical stuff that we can generate, that we can use,” he said. “That’s my own personal feeling. I like them, I think they are beneficial. I think we have too many of them now. I think once a month is good if it’s all balanced out.”

The district met with some controversy last year over its plan. Some parents asked if professional development had to fall over so many days or even if was needed at all. State law requires that each school district have a professional development plan.

The district estimated it would cost $300,000 to hold professional development meetings after school on regular-release days and that there was no guarantee teachers would stay. If the proposed plan is approved tonight, it will then need to be approved by the Nevada Department of Education.

The bulk of the early-release days will likely occur early in the 2006-07 school year, Watty said, to most benefit teachers in making classroom improvements.

“We’re kind of guiding (school use of professional development time) more into a specific focus on the school improvement plan,” Watty said. “I think this year we all learned from our pilot that we may have tried to do too much, in introducing a multitude of teaching strategies and things. We want to go more in depth on one or two topics.”

• Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

If you go

WHAT: Carson City School District board meeting

WHEN: 7 tonight

WHERE: Sierra Room of the Community Center, 851 E. William St.

CALL: 283-2100