Thursday, February 18, 2010

Making Up for Lost Time - Proposed School Make Up Daze

These are just proposed - Arlington is now looking for school time under all the cushions and behind the couch to see what can be made up.

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2010
APS Announces Proposed Make-up Day Plan
Today, Arlington Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy released the proposed Make-up Day Plan that has been developed with the support of Arlington School Board members.
Murphy summarized the details of the plan saying, “This make-up day plan has been created because we have missed more days than had been provided for in the APS 2009-10 school year calendar.” As of Fri, Feb. 12, Arlington Public Schools has closed for 10 days due to the effects of recent snowstorms. The days missed were Dec. 21, 22, & 23; Feb. 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, &12. Note: Dec. 23, Feb. 3 & 10 were early release days. Click here to see Virginia Code § 22.1-98 Length of School Term requirements.
The Superintendent continued, “We need to ensure that we fulfill the State requirement for instructional time. More importantly, we need to provide the instruction and support that our students lost when they could not benefit from time in the classroom with their teachers due to recent school closings.”
The APS Make-up Day Plan was developed with three separate phases. Murphy explained, “This provides us with a plan for all options, both past and future. In the face of so much disruption and uncertainty as a result of the recent snowstorms, we wanted to develop a complete plan. Families need to know what steps will be taken to cover the recent closings as well as the steps that might need to be taken in the event that added instructional time is lost later in the year.”
In developing the make-up day plan, staff calculated the amount of instructional time for each school level or program group to determine the shortfall for all schools. Murphy noted, “Phase I allows us to fully recover the amount of time to date for all schools and school levels.” The School Board is slated to approve Phase I at its Feb. 23 meeting.
In addition, the proposed plan includes two additional phases. The option of adding minutes as proposed with Phase II would be utilized if APS lost several more days. A third phase has been proposed and includes a set of options that could be utilized if the district experiences a major disruption later this year.
The following are the three phases in Arlington ’s proposed Make-up Day Plan:
Phase I (This phase provides the make-up time needed as of 2/16/10.)
· Elementary School Conference Days: Thu, March 4 and Fri, March 5 will become make-up student attendance days for all elementary school students. (Note: For Campbell Elementary, the Parent/Teacher Conference Days on March 11 and 12 and the Work Sample Preparation/ Early Release Day on June 4 will become make-up student attendance days.)
· Middle School Conference Day: Fri, March 5 will become a make-up student attendance day for all middle school students.
· Teacher Grade Preparation Day: Mon, April 5 will become a make-up student attendance day for all students (elementary, middle and high).
· Early Release Wednesdays:
- Elementary Schools with Early Release: Early Release Wednesdays will become full student attendance days from March 3 through June 9. These schools include Arlington Science Focus, Arlington Traditional, Barrett, Campbell , Carlin Springs, Drew, Hoffman-Boston, Long Branch , Nottingham, Oakridge, Taylor and Tuckahoe.
- Limited Early Release Elementary Schools: Students will attend school for full days on March 10 and April 28 which were originally designated as Early Release Days. These schools include Abingdon, Ashlawn, Barcroft, Claremont , Glebe, Henry, Jamestown , Key, McKinley and Randolph .
- NOTE: June 16 and 23 will remain Early Release Days for all elementary schools to allow time for teacher record/close out activities.
Phase II (This second phase would provide make-up time in the event that APS needs added instructional hours beyond those provided through implementation of Phase I.)
· Lengthen the school day by adding instructional minutes as needed.
Phase III (This phase would provide options for make-up time in the event that APS needs added instructional hours beyond those provided through implementation of Phases I and II.)
· Memorial Day: Mon, May 31, will become a make-up student attendance day for all students (elementary, middle and high).
· Spring Break: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday (March 29, 30, 31, April 1) would become make-up student attendance days for all students as needed (elementary, middle and high).
· Saturdays as needed would be designated for make-up time at all levels (elementary, middle and high).
· Add days to the end of the year as needed for make-up student attendance days.
School officials also offered answers to some frequently asked questions which have been received from parents, students, staff and members of the Arlington community over the past two weeks:
Why make up time? The Superintendent explained, saying, “ Arlington ’s reputation for excellence has been built on providing more than the minimum.” He continued, “This will help APS fulfill the state requirements, but more importantly, the make-up time will help us to ensure that we continue to offer the high quality instruction that is needed by our students to succeed.”
Why not request a waiver from the state? School officials clarified that the Commonwealth of Virginia requires that school divisions provide 180 days of instruction or 990 instructional hours. The school district must certify that “every reasonable effort” was made to make up days lost before requesting a waiver. This would include adding days to the end of the year, eliminating spring break, adding Saturdays as instructional days, etc.
What should parents do if they want to have conferences with teachers? Murphy said that all schools always have open and continuous communication with parents. However, if parents want to have conferences with teachers, they should follow the regular school procedure of contacting teachers. Although teachers will not have the time to provide conferences as they do when schools are closed for parent/teacher conferences, as always teachers will make every effort to meet with parents as needed before the school day begins for students, during team planning times for middle schools, and/or after the school day ends for students. Additionally, options of phone conferences are always available as needed.
· The Arlington School Board is tentatively slated to approve Phase I of the plan at its Feb. 23 meeting. The full memo from the Superintendent about the Make-up Day Plan will be available on Board Docs when the meeting documents are posted on Fri, Feb. 19.
· If approved, APS will begin to implement this phase of the Plan beginning March 1, 2010.

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