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Letters to the Editor

The 2014-15 school calendar

The calendar for the 2014-15 school year is complete and has been board approved.

The calendar committee made the recommendation to the board to create the calendar based on meeting 1,080 hours of instruction rather than 180 instructional days.

This actually allows more flexibility in the operations of the district, especially if we have numerous inclement weather days that need to be made up.

I don’t believe this specific change will be noticeable in our everyday operations; however, three other calendar changes that will affect our families are as follows:

1. Through much discussion and research with other districts, the decision was made to complete our first semester before Christmas break. We are excited about this decision and feel it will be best practice for our students to complete finals before break. This decision really only affects the secondary students.

2. Spring break will be uninterrupted — so those of you that want to plan that spring break “get away” in advance; you may do so without worrying that your plans may have to change due to “make up” days during spring break.

3. Probably the most noticeable change to our calendar has to do with the fact that we will be dismissing 1 (one) hour early every Wednesday so teachers can meet in collaboration with others to work on a variety of educational issues.

The state mandate (Iowa Code 284.6 (8)) of 36 hours of collaboration must be met by all school districts across Iowa, and the “early dismissal plan” is being implemented after a tremendous amount of discussion, debate and consideration of many viewpoints and options through meetings with the School Improvement Advisory Council (SIAC) and the District Calendar Committee.

While this is a state mandate, I choose to look at this change as a move in the right direction for education at Clarke and across the state. The research shows and supports the benefits for student academic progress when teachers are able to collaborate on a regular basis and work toward a common vision.

In the end, it is our students who will reap the benefits.

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