HED:Holly Springs schools to shorten one day for teacher work

AUTHOR: GINN

HED:Holly Springs schools to shorten one day for teacher work

By Jennifer Ginn

Daily Journal

Students in the Holly Springs School District will have shorter classes on Wednesdays this year, and officials are banking on it making education better.

Classes will end at 1 p.m. Wednesdays, which will cut about 1 hour and 40 minutes off the regular day, Superintendent Mike Flynn said.

The rest of the day will be spent by the teachers in staff development and planning.

“We aren’t shortchanging the students any,” Flynn said. “The additional time will be made up on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.”

More time will be added to the other four days by reducing a morning break time and lunch times, Flynn said. The school day itself will not be longer.

Planning time

Flynn said the idea to shorten the school day came from members of the state Department of Education when the district filed a corrective action plan, which is required of all Level 1 accredited districts.

The district has been a Level 1 – the lowest accreditation rating assigned by the state – for two years.

“It was one of the suggestions they gave us to provide teachers the opportunity to do what we call ‘peer coaching,'” Flynn said.

On Wednesdays, teachers in each grade level will be meeting to plan what they are teaching in the classroom. In the higher grades, such as high school, all the teachers in a specific subject area will work together.

Also planned are meetings between teachers in such grades as three and four, where students make the transition from one building to another.

“It will be much more coordinated between classes and between grades, so that there’s continuity of instruction from one level to the next and between classes on a grade level,” Flynn said. “I know several districts in the state did this last year, like the Leland School District. The superintendent there and their principals felt this was very beneficial in helping them move up a level.

“We did have planning times (last year), but not for entire grade levels. We have had one day of the week, Tuesday afternoons, where teachers stay late. It just hasn’t been real beneficial. We’re just trying to provide some meaningful time.”

Asking for understanding

Flynn said he realized that letting students out early on Wednesdays would be inconvenient for parents until they get a routine established.

He said the district offers an after-school program for children in kindergarten through the eighth grade, and the district is considering an after-school tutoring program for older students.

Until the kinks are worked out, Flynn hopes parents will remember that the district is making the changes for the benefit of the students.

“We need the time to analyze and improve instruction,” he said. “We do realize it’s putting a little bit of a hardship on parents for one day. We’re asking for their cooperation.”