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School Board weighs calendar options for next school year

The Loudoun County School Board is attempting to balance concerns from all stakeholders as it prepares to decide on the calendar for the next school year.

The board is now considering three proposals for the 2018-2019 academic calendar, and balancing the differing wants and needs of teachers, students and parents is no easy task.

Option A is modeled after the current school year, with a Thursday start date on Aug. 23, a week-long winter break and June 6 end date. Option C would also start on Aug. 23 but have a longer winter break by one day and end on June 7.

Lastly, Option D would have students start on Monday, Aug. 27, have a winter break shorter by one day, remove a countywide staff development day in April and have students finish out the school year on Friday, June 7, 2019.

Option D was amended by Eric Hornberger (Ashburn). A previous version of Option D would have had students come to school Monday, June 10, have the June 11 primary election day off and return for the last day of school on June 12.

Consensus on the board was that students were likely not to show up for the last day — and possibly the last week — if they went with this plan, sparking Hornberger’s changes.

Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) said she would not support any option that removed staff development days as the board had heard from teachers and administrators that these days were necessary for staff to continue training and educating themselves on ways to best serve students.

“This is where we had the heartburn last time because I believed wholeheartedly in having these embedded workdays,” Turgeon said. “We had two professionals today talk about the benefit of that, we saw in their faces how wonderful it was and now we’re offering an option that’s taking that away and I think we’re stepping backwards.”

Board members considered sending out a survey to see which option constituents preferred but did not have enough votes to do so. Instead, the board is asking for constituents to contact members with their thoughts on the three options.

The board will decide on the calendar at its Nov. 28 meeting.

Comments


“I wanted LCPS to use SGP data was because we could tell who are the outstanding teachers” - unfortunately for SGP, his data cannot do this.  I guess he will have to evaluate his kid’s teachers the old fashion way, by being involved in their educuation


Option D = Common Sense
Option A/C = Bureaucrat Logic


davisB, fair point.  It appears the school board has disregarded the opinion of parents, taxpayers AND teachers in choosing its calendars.  I should never have believed the LCSB excuse that extra PD days were in the “best interest” of teachers.  The only folks whose input was considered appear to be the teacher-spouses of the actual school board members.  Once again, it’s all about what’s personally best for the families of Jeff Morse, Eric Hornberger, Jill Turgeon and Joy Maloney.

Let’s think back a couple of years ago when LCPS/LCSB looked at the midterm/finals policy.  They didn’t solicit any public input.  They did ask the teachers though.  The teachers indicated they wanted to keep the midterms/finals.  So what did LCPS/LCSB do?

They waited till everyone went on summer break and then simply announced midterms/finals were no more.  They took this action after indicating they would wait till the fall so everyone’s voices could be heard.  They lied.

Back to PD.  The research shows PD has no impact.  However, research also shows innovation comes from within and often from the front line.  One of the main reasons I wanted LCPS to use SGP data was because we could tell who are the outstanding teachers.  Those teachers could be tapped to share their practices (whether it be techniques they used or just showing them in action to the newer teachers).  LCPS would likely need to compensate teachers for running the PD but it would almost assuredly be better than whatever the castle produces now.  LCPS can’t even tell you which teachers cause the most student growth.  How can we expect them to know how to increase effectiveness?

We all know the answer.  We need a new board who will put the right people in place.  We need a new teacher promotion model where the best teachers are allocated equally across schools and compensated accordingly (e.g. “master” teachers).  And we need a board that embraces standards rather than constantly tries to dumb them down.


if the R tax bill passes, middle class folks will have less $ available to raise their children.

LCPS should now always pick the cheapest option in any decision since taxes will now hit families even harder. 

Time to harvest the bitter fruit of giving bigger tax breaks to the wealthy.


SGP - you owe the teachers an apology:

First you say, “The only basis for including PD days during the year is for the convenience of a few thousand teachers.”  and then you acknowledge “most teachers seem to agree that the PD days 8n the middle of the year aren’t worth their “salt””

Stop bashing teachers   - no teacher I know thinks the PD days are worth the interruptions to class time.  This is coming from the administration and board, not the teachers -

Stop bashing the teachers


So why was this article taken off the front page? The comments clearly indicate the people strongly oppose the calendars created by the school board which were designed for the interests of a few teachers. Even then, most teachers seem to agree that the PD days 8n the middle of the year aren’t worth their “salt”. When will our schools stop being run for ilthe interests of the spouses of the school board?


As a teacher in LCPS, I can say that the Thursday start is ridiculous and the professional development days are not worth their salt.


The studies show that teacher professional development plays no part in the effectiveness of teachers (not clear if that’s because the PD is poor or because it’s hard to improve teacher effectiveness).  While there is likely some value to showing teachers some of the latest tools, there is ZERO reason for doing so during the school year.  All PD days should occur prior to beginning of the school year, after the year, or during spring break (why do teachers who work only 195 days per year expect to have 5 days off in the middle of the spring anyway?  those should be their work and PD days).

The only basis for including PD days during the year is for the convenience of a few thousand teachers.  Meanwhile, 100K+ parents are inconvenienced by extending the school year and forcing them to take vacation during the middle of the year.

Of course school board members who have teacher spouses prefer inconveniencing 100K parents as opposed to a few thousand teachers.  But the taxpayers/parents pay way more taxes.  The parents/students are the client.  Maybe this school board should understand that for a change.  In fact, they should disclose their conflict as a spouse of an interested teacher before taking this vote per the Conflict of Interest Act.  Just another reason to vote them out in 2019.


The current school year calendar is not helpful for single parents.  I understand this is a prosperous county and the number of SAHMs is ... absurd.  Good on them, but this momma’s gotta work.  Winter break is two whole weeks!  Give me a break.  And then they gotta start mid-August.  I would rather them have the longest summer break and cut the winter/spring breaks - just too long! Thank goodness for PRCS.


I think I speak for all Loudoun County parents when I say we demand an Option B. Going straight from Option A to Option C is right out.

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