Early-out school days is a workable plan | NevadaAppeal.com

Early-out school days is a workable plan

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Thanks to the Carson City School Board for listening to the concerns of parents and teachers before deciding to schedule professional development time in the afternoons.

No one questioned the need for teachers to get more time to improve their own skills and get together on schoolwide strategies, it was just a matter of when. There’s really no choice for the school district, since state law mandates an improvement plan and the federal No Child Left Behind Act makes greater demands on schools.

The original plan – to use time in the mornings, requiring schools to start later than usual on 15 Wednesdays of the school year – tried to take into account the busy after-school schedules of many teachers, especially those running remedial programs and extracurricular activities.

However, it didn’t do much to take into account the busy schedules of parents and how much disruption late-start Wednesdays could create. Although a headline in this newspaper on an earlier story characterized the debate as parents vs. teachers, that was never the case. Many teachers also had concerns about the proposed schedule.

So after the school board fully aired the concerns from both, it was able to reach a workable schedule for afternoons.

We still have our own concerns, though, about the burden placed on local school districts by state and federal lawmakers. It’s fine to want to raise the bar on education, but here is another concrete example of the cost of their mandates.

The Carson City School District should budget the $300,000 or so it would cost to pay teachers for time outside their normal hours for professional development. Any private business wanting to focus on training in order to improve the quality of its product would make such a commitment.

But it would also have to reduce costs elsewhere. Between rising expectations and tax-cut fever, school districts find themselves squeezed into solutions that, like early-out Wednesdays, aren’t a particularly comfortable fit.