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Jefferson City Public Schools

Jefferson City Board of Education delays approval of early dismissal days for teacher development

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Jefferson City Board of Education did not approve 70-minute early dismissals almost every Monday next school year.

Treasurer of the board Ken Enloe presented a motion to approve the school's calendar without the proposed early dismissal times the district wants for teacher development. The motion passed with one objecting vote.

The change would have meant Elementary students would dismiss at 1:35, middle school at 2:40 and high school at 2:30 on most Monday is the 2021-2022 school year.

The Jefferson City School District collected feedback from staff and principals about the changes to the calendar, reporting that more than half of certifies staff that responded was in favor of the change.

According to the district's FAQ sheet on the issue, the change would decrease students in-seat learning by 1.8 percent. It would increase teacher's development time by 36 percent.

As for child care, the district says The Boys & Girls Club and YMCA are planning to provide after-school care on weekly early release days. The district said the partners are worried about staffing levels. JC Schools would have to get some para staff certified to provide after-school care.

Some after-school activities would be pushed back as well if the teachers are the ones in charge of the programs. The district said paraprofessionals, substitutes and staff members could fill the gap by providing a study hall or tutoring typesetting.

The district says the time would allow for collaboration across the district so teachers and staff members can work together and strategize for students. More than a dozen teachers came and spoke in support of the change.

"Having an early release is going to give us more frequent development," Assistant Principal of Moreau Heights Elementary School said. "Sometimes we go months before coming back to what we were working on."

Enloe and several of the board members said they support giving teachers more development time but want to make sure they are doing it in the right way.

"My question is moving as quickly as we have, there's a lot of unanswered questions in our community," Enloe said.

Board Member Lindsey Rowden agreed, saying she would even be willing to talk about 4 day weeks to give teachers more time.

"I don't know if 70 minutes is enough," Rowden said. "We need to figure out a way to give back some time to our teachers where they can really, really maximize."

Two parents came forward expressing similar concerns, and wondering if this was the right time to be discussing this change.

"We're going to have them dismiss their students, take a deep breath, then pour into themselves to be better educations Monday... is that the best we can do," Chris Duren, a parent, said.

A spokesman for the Missouri State Teachers Association Todd Fuller said teacher development is critical for teachers.

"It's better to give them built-in time to have that opportunity, especially now trying to find substitute teachers is even more difficult," Fuller said.

He said it could take pressure off of teachers and parents who can plan for those days in advance.

"I think anytime you can have a set schedule that everyone knows in advance, it makes a lot more sense," Fuller said.

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Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.

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