SPRINGDALE – Students could be getting out of school 80 minutes early on Wednesdays starting next fall.
School Board members held a work session Wednesday to discuss the possibility of adding 10 minutes to the instructional day on other days and releasing students early on Wednesdays to create time for collaborative professional development for teachers.
No decisions were made at the work session. It’s unclear exactly when the board might vote on the matter.
If approved, early-release Wednesdays will be implemented in August, said Marcia Smith, associate superintendent for curriculum, instruction and innovation.
Some Springdale teachers have been doing collaborative team meetings, as part of professional learning communities, for about eight years, Smith said. Professional learning communities give teachers the opportunity to work collaboratively, focusing on student achievement and data that shows which kids are learning and which are not, she said.
The new model would allow all teachers to be involved in professional learning communities, Smith said. Research shows the most student achievement occurs when all teachers are on board and have the same opportunity to collaborate and learn, she said.
Under the new schedule, core elementary school teachers would go from about 45 minutes a week of collaborative team meetings to 80 minutes a week. Encore teachers – those who teach things like physical education, art and music – would go from zero time to 80 minutes a week. Middle, junior high and high school teachers would go from some teachers with one collaborative team meeting a day and some with no collaborative time at all to all teachers having 80 minutes of collaborative time a week.
The district is working with after-school programs to provide extra child care for elementary and middle school students on Wednesdays, Smith said. Administrators are still working through issues such as transportation and staggered release times.
Collaborative team meetings give teachers time to have a deep clinical conversation that creates a plan for each child and implements the plan, Superintendent Jared Cleveland said.
If the administration recommends the plan, the School Board should move forward with it, board member Clinton Bell said.
“It’s not so much, should we do it; it’s how do we do it?” board member Nick Emerson said.
Springdale is the largest school district in the state, with 21,796 students as of last fall.
Parents, students, and certified and classified staff in the Springdale School District were asked whether they agreed that the district should adopt early-release Wednesdays. Out of 3,004 responses:
• 21.8% strongly disagree
• 7.8% disagree
• 11.1% neutral
• 14.1% agree
• 45.2% strongly agree
Source: Springdale School District