Auburn School Committee members Faith Fontaine, Bonnie Hayes and Tom Kendall give a thumbs-up Wednesday night on agreeing that next year’s school calendar will not have early-release Wednesdays for grades seven-12. The committee is taking more time to decide how to give teachers professional development time.

AUBURN — There will be no early-release Wednesdays for grades seven to 12 for the next school year.

The School Committee agreed Wednesday night to take the controversial proposal out of the 2017-18 calendar.

Committee members agreed to hold more workshops and come up with options to give teachers more professional development time. After options are developed, a public forum will be held and a survey conducted to get feedback from the community.

On May 3, the School Committee was scheduled to vote on approving a 2017-18 school calendar with 13 half-day Wednesdays for grades seven to 12.

For years, Auburn has released students in grades kindergarten to sixth grade early on Wednesdays to give teachers time for training.

Advertisement

But this time, the committee received a big pushback from parents who showed up at meetings unhappy about the amount of class time students would lose, and that some 1,500 teenagers would be released from school at 11:30 a.m. with no supervision.

They said the process did not include parents and the community.

The committee tabled the topic.

On Wednesday, the committee reviewed what parents said and proposed options to provide teachers more professional development time to improve student learning. Members invited parents to suggest options.

Nine were proposed:

• Release grades seven to 12 one hour early every Wednesday.

Advertisement

• Release grade seven to 12 on 13 Wednesdays at 2 p.m.

• Release grades seven to 12 at 11:30 a.m. nine Wednesdays a year.

• Have early-release on a day other than Wednesday.

• Release grades kindergarten to 12 one hour early every Wednesday.

• Make no changes until the next teachers’ contract is negotiated in two years. Parent Jason Levesque said more professional development time should be part of negotiations.

• Hold a late start for grades seven to 12 once a month, starting school at 10 a.m.

Advertisement

• Find ways to add more professional development time to the eight teacher workshop days, such as making those days longer, or holding 16 half-days a year.

• Start school one hour late every Wednesdays for all grades.

Several parents, including Matthew Kovacevich, said they didn’t want their students to lose any class time.

“We can’t touch instructional time,” he said.

Parent Jason Levesque said he favors Option 6, “do nothing until the contract negotiations with the teachers.” What’s not being included in considering more professional development is the union representative, he said. Most plans being discussed mean lost class time for students.

“All the concessions are on the students,” Levesque said. 

Advertisement

Parent Amy Hesby said the School Department already has seven or eight professional days, and the committee wants to add another 33 hours. Other school districts make do with less teacher training time, she said.

“Do you have to have the max or could you just have 20 hours plus the seven days?” Hesby asked. Parents are asking for moderation, she said.

School Committee Chairman Tom Kendall said the committee’s interest is to maximize the quality of instruction time by improving the skill of teachers in the classroom.

“It’s been proven by study after study that the most important part of a child’s education is the teacher in the classroom,” he said. “Giving teachers time to collaborate, learn from one another and do things better to get better outcomes.”

Another workshop on the options will be held June 21.

Parent Matthew Kovacevich talks about options on how to give Auburn teachers more professional development time but minimize instruction time that students would lose. Kovacevich said students should not lose any class time.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.