Washington Board of Education Denies SPS' Request for Waivers

From reader DK:

Looks like the 2013-14 school calendar will not be what the district originally assumed- our kids will actually be with their teachers for 3 more days than planned, as Seattle’s request for the 3 full Waiver days for professional development has been denied for a 2nd time by the State Board of Education last week.

From the posted July 10-11th meeting highlights:
The Board considered requests from 13 school districts for Option One waivers from the basic education requirement of a minimum 180-day school year. Six of the requests are resubmittals of requests presented but not approved at the May meeting, with additional information provided by each district as requested in May…The Board directed staff to provide written notice to Columbia (Walla Walla), Fife, and Seattle districts that their requests were not approved.”

Among the reasons given for the final denial for Seattle- lack of community support or engagement (required by state law). The district did not even release the information to the public (or to the Board, which had to vote approval of the 1st application) that they were changing the original application. The 2nd application stated that all 3 professional development days would be directed by the district, for district initiatives (and not left to the discretion of each building, as before). 

Unfortunately, there are no state (or district) laws or rules limiting the number of half and/or partial-day releases, on either a district-wide basis, or individually on a site-based basis. Partial days are in many ways more disruptive than the full-days off. Will see more of these?

End of comment

On the one hand, bravo to the BOE for denying an application that did not meet their requirements.  The district did not do their due diligence to the public AND wanted to direct those days (rather than allowing schools to decide how the time could best be used).  

On the other hand, half-days off seemed, to me, as annoying as full-days (and I suspect for people with childcare issues, they are worse).


Anonymous said…
Half days are worse because the students learn little in those truncated class periods (that info is per my middle schooler).

mirmac1 said…
I agree re: the 1/2 days.

On district-directed PD, I have this to say. If it's for more PG&E or assessment crap I oppose it. If it is mandatory training on IDEA, IEP compliance, MTSS, and differentiating instruction for differently-abled learners - then GREAT! As the OSPI monitoring review illustrates, there is astounding ignorance with respect to what buildings can do and what they must do, by law. There are many principals and BLTs who decide "we don't want to spend training time and budget on that!" Sorry, that discretion is no longer an option if administrators find incompliant schools and principals who flout the law. Every building will be reviewed, and those found lacking WILL be required to have this PD.
Anonymous said…
We can hope the legislature will finally come through with a bill to mandate 6 hour school days this year. Randy Dorn has thrown his full support behind such a bill. Unfortunately Senate Bill 5588, which would have done this, stalled/failed this year. Contact your representatives today and let them know we NEED such a bill. It is time that the state begin funding professional development days again.
tk said…
I'm wondering how long it would have been before the district caught this and published the Option B calendar approved by the Board in June (no full Waiver days off, which also changes the last day of school to June 19th)?

In May the Board (and the SEA) were so confident that the Waivers would be approved that they did not even check on the results before actually voting on a calendar that included 3 full Waiver days even though the State Board had denied Seattle's first application one week previously!

Luckily for next year, the 2013-14 calendar was approved by the Seattle Board without any option of additional partial day early releases (it does include 5 early releases which have been in the calendar for years). Hopefully they can not go back and add more early releases which are so disruptive.

And yes, it is a Catch 22 about full Waiver days vs partial early releases. I agree that full days are much less disruptive, both academically and schedule-wise for all involved, despite cutting valuable instructional days.

I fully agree with TS (above post)-Professional development should be built into the budget outside of the 180 days that kids should be in the classrooms with their teachers. Unfortunately, there are no state or district laws/rules which limit the number of half or partial days (for either district or sit-based), which can be as many as one each week for some of our schools. The State Board of Education is well aware of this loophole and tried to close it with SB 5588, but school district administrators strongly testified that partial days are their only way of getting professional development (while our kids sit at home or on the streets...). We need to fix this, but not at the kid's expense!

Charlie Mas said…
My daughter often asks to stay home on half-days. She finds them to be a waste of time because little or nothing of educational value is done during the shortened class periods.

Couldn't they have full periods on these days, even if there are only three of them? You know, odd number periods meet on the first half day and even number periods meet on the next half day.
Anonymous said…
Hale seems to adjust to late start Tuesdays. They have different schedules on different days. Some classes they have only 4 days a week and some are 5 days a week. The kids say that the different schedules on different days keep things from getting monotonous.

Anonymous said…
Charlie - full class periods on short days would be much better. I'd love to see late start rather than early dismissal if we have to have half days.

Anonymous said…
Roosevelt has full class on late start & early arrival.


Maureen said…
From our experience, Roosevelt does that by pairing the District mandated early dismissal days with school level late start days, so they have twice as many half days as Ingraham does. Ingraham somehow manages to do their school level PD without taking away extra class time.
Anonymous said…
Hale does not have late start Tuesdays when there is a SPS mandated half day. Nor do they have late start when there is a holiday during the week.


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