LEWISTON — On eight Wednesdays next school year, Lewiston public school students will be released two hours early.

The dates are Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16, Jan. 11, Feb. 15, March 8, April 12 and May 17. On those days, elementary schools will be released at 1 p.m. instead of 3 p.m.

The middle and high schools, which normally get out at 2 and 2:10 p.m., respectively, will probably be released around noon, Lewiston High School Principal Shawn Chabot said.

“We haven’t finalized the schedule yet,” Chabot said. “We’re going to meet next week to discuss that. If the elementary schools are getting two hours, we’ll look at something similar.”

The middle and high schools will need to coordinate because those students use the same bus routes, Chabot said.

On Monday night, the School Committee voted 6-2 to approve the early-release days, plus two more professional development days for teachers in August.

The goal is to give teachers professional development time, especially to build new learning standards and grades for the Proficiency-Based Education that is being implemented.

Superintendent Bill Webster said Tuesday he’d release the dates this week. On Wednesday, he tweeted a picture of the new calendar.

While the Auburn School Department gives teachers time Wednesday afternoons for professional development almost every week, this is a new move for Lewiston. School officials have resisted releasing students early because of concerns for working parents.

As a parent, Chabot said he understands that. If it’s explained well to the public, “people will be supportive,” he said.

Unlike other school departments and districts, Lewiston will only have early release once a month, except December and June, when there will be no early dismissal.

“It’s a small amount of time overall students will lose,” Chabot said. What students will lose in class time will be more than made up with the quality of instruction from teachers, he said. 

Teachers are being asked to develop new learning strategies, new standards and new grades. They need time to do the work, Chabot said.

“I’m happy we’re doing this,” he said. “We need to support our teachers.”

High school teacher Samantha Garnett Sias, who heads the Lewiston Education Association, said the union supported weekly early release days — or about 60 hours — in response to higher workloads created by numerous initiatives from Lewiston and the state. The heavier burdens were causing poor morale among teachers, Sias said.

The eight early-release days approved by the School Committee “falls dramatically short” of what was agreed to and what’s needed, she said.

The Lewiston Education Association maintains that the 60-plus hours “is the best solution for the staff and students in Lewiston,” she said.


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