Teachers applaud additional time for planning

Teachers applaud additional time for planning
Posted on 02/12/2016

Teachers applaud additional time for planning

By KEVIN REAGAN Staff Writer | Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2016 8:44 am

CASA GRANDE — In an effort to give teachers more planning time, the Casa Grande Elementary School District will add eight more early dismissal days to the next school year calendar.

One early dismissal day will be added per month, providing a total of 22 extra hours of planning time for teachers.

District Superintendent Frank Davidson said the extra hours are intended to give teachers time for individual planning and grade-level collaboration with fellow teachers.

Davidson first mentioned the proposal to the district’s Governing Board in December and has since been gathering public input on the measure.

Over 300 staff members completed a district survey regarding the proposal, according to Davidson, with a majority expressing support for it. He added that the district did not receive any comments from parents.

One concern with adding more early dismissal days, Davidson said, was the strain it might put on parents to find child care.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Casa Grande Valley, which supervises about 450 district students in its after-school program, would be able to extend the hours of its program, according to Executive Director Matthew Lemberg.

He said the eight early dismissal days would not burden staff members, who would simply arrive earlier at the club’s three Casa Grande branches on those days.    

The district considered other options for adding planning time, Davidson said, such as cutting 30 minutes from the daily school schedule. But that plan would make it difficult for teachers to cover all the necessary curriculum, he said.

Governing Board member Dolores Underwood, a former elementary school principal, said giving more planning time was the best thing the district could do for teachers.  

“Teachers are constantly being given more and more work, and so their plate is full,” she said.

Before voting on the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting, board President Judee Jackson asked Davidson how the district would measure if more planning time is leading to better outcomes.

Davidson said gains in academic achievement will be one way to measure success as well as responses from an annual survey conducted by an interest-based bargaining committee, which assesses general morale of district employees. A lack of planning time has been an ongoing issue expressed in previous committee surveys, he added.

Rhonda Kesterson, a first-grade teacher at McCartney Ranch Elementary School, said a teacher’s plate is “overwhelmingly full” trying to keep up with new academic standards and training requirements. Having more individual time for grading and lesson planning is something she fully supports.

“The extra planning time will be used to be able to get into our own classrooms and look at our own students and see what our kids need... instead of taking home stuff,” Kesterson said.

The Governing Board approved the proposal in a 4-0 vote with one member absent. Applause from the meeting’s audience erupted after the measure passed.

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