District looking for input an academic calendar

Posted 3/1/22

PRESCOTT – Prescott School District parents can expect in the coming months to be asked to complete a survey about building in a two-hour early release in next year’s academic calendar. The …

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District looking for input an academic calendar


PRESCOTT – Prescott School District parents can expect in the coming months to be asked to complete a survey about building in a two-hour early release in next year’s academic calendar.

The Prescott School Board approved the 2022-23 calendar at its January meeting, but held off on building in a two-hour early release on Mondays for staff professional development. The board decided it wanted more parent feedback before such a change is implemented. Earlier this winter, the board voted to allow a two-hour early release on Mondays for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year.

Malone Intermediate Principal Michael Kosmalski has been spearheading efforts to build an academic calendar that best balances instructional needs, district academic priorities, and providing staff time within the work day to collaborate around student needs and professional development. The district is working toward an academic model based on the belief that all students can learn at a high level if teachers meet them where they’re at, Kosmalski said. The work toward this model began in 2018, prior to COVID.

“Parent feedback was a piece that was missing from this year’s early release plan,” Kosmalski told the board at its Feb. 16 meeting. “If we’re going to build that into the calendar (next year), we want to have that.”

Kosmalski presented a tentative timeline for making this decision, which includes educating the public in February and March, rolling out a staff survey in March, engaging families with a survey in April, presenting the surveys’ findings to the school board in May, and the school board voting in June.

Board Treasurer Tanya Holub said it would be helpful to dig into metrics and data around the two-hour early release this year. She posed questions such as “Are kids learning differently? Is instruction better now that teachers have builtin collaboration time? Are there more opportunities for student learning? How are staff doing? What are they doing that they couldn’t do before?”

Board Clerk Pat Block questioned whether adding more full-time staff to the district (within budget constraints) would eliminate the need for early releases, by adding more hands to do the work.

Board Vice President Steve Sizemore asked Kosmalski what the district will do if parents are “really not on board” with the proposed twohour early release. “We need to see data to show shy this is needed,” Sizemore said.

Kosmalski said the new academic model relies on short cycles of continuous improvement, collaboration and interdependency. Collaboration time built into the workday is not uniform or common, especially between one-person departments (ie: band directors).

The district is well above the Department of Public Instruction’s required annual hours of student instruction, Kosmalski explained, Currently, 4K is 25 hours above the recommended amount, K-5 is 76 hours above, and 6-12 is 32 hours above.

The desired result of the calendar change is a defined, school-day calendar that supports Professional Learning Communities with short cycles of continuous improvement, Kosmalski said. This would also allow for micro professional development within the academic work day and week while keeping transportation costs consistent to the current budgeted amounts. It would place reasonable expectations on students, staff and families while maximizing collaboration and instructional time to provide a consistent, coherent and appropriate strategy to meet the unique learning needs of every child.

Holub volunteered to assist Kosmalski and his team in compiling the requested data before a decision is made.

Town of Clifton resident Joe Rohl, during public comment, said he is disappointed the students can’t have five full days of instruction and as a taxpayer, he would prefer to pay more to hire more teachers so they have the time they need to collaborate during normal work hours.

“This creates a lot of inconveniences for families,” Rohl said. “Everyone’s stepping up to do what they need to do to support teachers, but understand, the pandemic was hard on everybody and when you have to accommodate a varying schedule like that, it’s harder to plan your FTEs and other tings around an early release day.”