Summer break is over: School starts Wednesday

Posted on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 9:27 am

It’s back to the drawing board on Wednesday — literally.

Much to some students’ dismay, but welcomed by others, Franklin County’s schools will be back in session from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.bus photos 002

Dr. Rebecca Sharber, director of schools, said the “abbreviated” day is to get students acclimated to their new class surroundings and get acquainted with their teachers.

The first full school day is Friday, beginning at 8 a.m..

Sharber said one of the most signifi cant changes this school year is Late Start Wednesdays, which will officially get underway on Aug. 13.

The initiative is to allow teachers special time to discuss student results and improve the learning environment.

Sharber said that starting late on Wednesdays — 8:30 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. — will allow all teachers dedicated time to meet as “professional learning communities.”

The effort is an ongoing process where educators work collaboratively in recurring collective inquiry cycles and, through research, achieve better results for the students they serve.

Professional learning communities operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators, according to a dedicated website.

Sharber said Tullahoma City Schools has done something similar by letting school out early on Wednesdays so educators can brainstorm together to find ways to improve the daily educational approach.

She said the same approach is being taken in Franklin County, but the teacher gatherings will be done early in the morning, instead of the afternoon.

“We feel that this year we will see improvement in some students’ growth,” Sharber said, referring to the program’s expected outcome. “We believe, over time, teachers will be more informed, and we will see improvement in all student learning areas.”

Sharber recommended parents take note about the change so they may adjust their schedules to ensure their children can get to school.

“I think some parents may have to adjust their schedules,” she said, adding that the numbers affected should be minimal.

A media release from the school system explains what parents and teachers need to know about the initiative.

The purpose of the effort is for teachers to meet regularly to analyze test scores, discuss student needs and plan lessons based on student needs. The goal is to improve student learning.

Beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 13, the students’ day will begin at 8:30 a.m., rather than 8 a.m. This will continue on every Wednesday through the school year, and will only apply to Wednesdays. The other four days will have a regular 8 a.m. start time.

On later start Wednesdays, buses will run 30 minutes later than on the other days. Generally, buses will arrive at school between 7:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. Afternoon dismissal will remain at 3 p.m. on all days.

For parents who take their children to school, each campus will have its own early drop-off time. School principals will be sending a message through School Messenger — the system’s direct link to contacting parents through automated phone messages — stating how early children can be dropped off, but not before 7 a.m.

Teachers will report to the learning community at 7:30 a.m. The meetings will last about 50 minutes, and the teachers will be ready to begin their regular school day with students at 8:30 a.m.

The Franklin County School Board and the Tennessee Commissioner of Education have given their approval to use three stockpiled days toward the professional development cause, Sharber said.

She said the school system, through the commissioner’s approval, has a total of 13 “stockpiled” days built into the schedule.

She said 10 of the stockpiled days can be used if classes are canceled, due to inclement weather, without having to extend the academic year beyond its scheduled 180 days. She added that the other three days can be used toward professional development, which is what’s being done to have the teachers gather early on Wednesdays.

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