DPS adds five early release days to 2014-15 calendar

Jan. 04, 2014 @ 05:39 PM

Durham Public Schools teachers will get five additional early release days during the 2014-15 school year.
That means students will be released from school early on those days – 12:30 p.m. for some schools and 1:30 p.m., for others.
The school board approved the five extra days during its Dec. 19 board meeting.
The five additional days brings the total of early release days for the next school year to eight, including three others that had been previously approved.
School officials said the additional days are needed because of new assessment standards, new state final exams in middle and high schools and higher proficiency demands.
“Teachers need more time to analyze data, unpack new standards, develop common assessments, and create and share lesson plans,” administrators wrote last month in a power point presented to the school board.
In an interview, Jim Key, the school district’s area superintendent for high schools, said there aren’t many professions that ask employees to work all day and then engage in professional development for several hours afterward.
“We have a tendency to do that quite a bit in public education and it’s not fair to teachers,” Key said.
 The additional early release dates approved for year-round schools are: Sept. 17, Nov. 19, Dec.10, Jan. 28 and March 11. The previously approved dates are Aug. 6, Feb. 11 and April 29.
 For specialty high schools, the addition early release dates are Aug. 20, Oct. 15, Nov. 19, Dec. 10, Jan. 28. Dates previously approved are Sept. 17, Feb. 11 and April 29.
 The extra early release dates for schools on the traditional school calendar are Oct. 15, Nov. 19, Dec. 10, Jan 28 and March 11. The dates previously approved by the board are Sept. 17, Feb. 11 and April 29. 
After school programs for children in K-5 will operate on the early release days, but middle school programs will not because the programs are administered by middle school teachers who are required to attend the professional development sessions.
Key said the school board has asked administrators to look at a way to provide after-school care for middle school students during the early release date to minimize the impact on parents.
“We are looking into that,” Key said. “Right now, we don’t have a plan for that but it’s something we are taking a look at.”
He said after-school care is not needed for high school students who are generally engaged in activities outside school such as jobs or club activities and are capable of looking out for themselves.
Teachers must participate in the early-release day meetings and teachers in schools that dismiss students at 12:30 p.m. are expected to meet until 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, teachers in schools that dismiss students at 1:30 p.m. are expected to meet until 5 p.m.