AUBURN — The School Committee is looking for volunteers to serve on a new committee to explore how to provide grade seven through 12 teachers with more professional development while meeting the needs of families.

The committee would consider, for instance, whether giving more professional development time to teachers should be on half-day Wednesdays, similar to grades K-6, and whether it should be weekly or monthly.

It would also consider issues such as should the start of the school day be delayed to make time for professional development, should it be something different or not happen at all.

The School Committee took up the topic during a workshop Wednesday night with the goal of narrowing options. Members did not narrow down options and instead concluded they wanted broader input from the community.

For years, pupils in grades K-6 have been released early on most Wednesdays  to give teachers professional development time. The grade seven through 12 teachers don’t get the same kind of workshop time, and that’s an inequity, Superintendent Katy Grondin said.

Educators have noticed that districtwide, end-of-year test scores dip from the sixth grade to when students are in middle school, Grondin said, which could be one indicator of the difference that having more or less professional development time means for student learning.

From that observation, educators began planning to create half-day Wednesdays for the upper grades.

During a May 3 meeting, the School Committee was scheduled to vote on establishing half-day Wednesdays beginning this fall for grades seven through 12. Parents at the meeting objected, saying students need to be in school, need to be supervised, and the change would be too difficult on working families.

Parents asked officials to give the proposal more time and allow for more community input.

The item was tabled.

The new committee would most likely begin meeting in August, Grondin said. The group will be facilitated by Assistant Superintendent Michelle McClellan. The committee’s recommendations will be given to the School Committee, which will decide how best to provide more professional development for middle and high school teachers.

Persons interested in serving on a committee should contact Roz Walton at 784-6431, extension 1201, or email to [email protected]

Auburn parent Amy Hesby speaks at an Auburn School Committee meeting May 3 against early-release Wednesdays for grades seven to 12 students. The School Department is looking for people to serve on a committee to explore the possibilities.

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