PARIS — The School Administrative District 17 board of directors voted Tuesday night to extend early release Wednesdays districtwide by an hour through the remainder of the current school year.

The move will make up three of the five snow days the district has had so far and restore Wednesdays to a “regular” school day.

The revised schedule will begin Feb. 6.

The early release Wednesdays were approved by the board in 2016 as a way to provide more professional time for teachers to address new state requirements, particularly the pending statewide implementation of proficiency-based diplomas.

It was considered a one-year pilot program for the 2016-17 school year, but was extended into the next year and this year.

Although several board members questioned the benefits of the professional development time for teachers and students, administrators said the move would have little impact on students.

Colpitts said the teachers’ association has agreed to support the change, which will affect professional development opportunities by 15 to 30 minutes on Wednesdays. Under the new plan, teachers will remain after school for professional development until 3:30 p.m. at the high school and middle school, and 4:30 p.m. at the elementary schools.

According to information from Colpitts, the Maine Department of Education allows schools to regain up to five snow days by extending a regularly scheduled day by one hour, which would make Wednesdays the same length as the other school days.

Under state law, students in kindergarten through grade 11 must have 175 instructional days. High school seniors are required to complete 170 days.

According to a memo from the commissioner of education to school districts, officials may try to make up the lost time by rescheduling or shortening scheduled vacation time, postponing the scheduled school closing date, conducting classes on weekends or reverting a scheduled teacher in service day to a student instructional day.

In other matters, Colpitts updated the board on the district’s progress toward goals established in the strategic plan approved by the board in 2014 and written by a Strategic Planning Committee.

The board also voted to approve several coaching stipends for the winter 2018-2019 season, including the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School girl’s freshman basketball coach, girls indoor track head coach, alpine ski head coach and alpine ski assistant head coach.

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Ted Moccia, principal of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, tells the SAD 17 board of directors Tuesday night the plan to eliminate early release Wednesdays to make up snow days simply means schools will “run a normal schedule” on those days. (Advertiser Democrat photo by Leslie H. Dixon)