Schedule change considered at Kennewick high schools

Tri-City HeraldApril 5, 2013 

High school students in the Kennewick School District could have fewer early release days under a proposal being considered by district officials. However, the students would get out of class even sooner than they already do on those days.

The district is surveying parents online about the possible change, which is meant to provide bigger blocks of time for high school principals and teachers to complete needed training.

"There isn't time because teachers are teaching all the time," said assistant superintendent Ron Williamson.

Currently, elementary and middle school students in the district are released about an hour early each Wednesday, while high school students are released early about every other Wednesday.

Under the proposal, the district's three high schools would dismiss students early only eight times each school year -- compared to the current 16 early release days -- but they'd be released at 10:30 a.m. instead of 1:30 p.m. That would mean students would be released early about once per month rather than about twice per month.

Williamson said it was easier to schedule needed training time in the past, as the state provided enough money for an additional three days more than the standard 180 days required for teaching students.

The district also paid for five training days. The recession and ensuing budget cuts stripped the district's calendar of those days.

Those cuts didn't eliminate the need for high school principals to work with their staffs outside the classroom, Williamson said.

Standardized testing and teacher evaluations can change every school year or even every month.

"It's not something you can sit down with (the teachers) for an hour and go over it," Williamson said.

A survey of the district's high school teachers showed that almost three out of four approve of changing the early release schedule, Williamson said.

The Kennewick Education Association, the district's teachers union, could not be reached Wednesday.

Parents can take the three-question survey at www.ksd.org and scrolling down to the survey link, or going directly to the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/K93HG2K.

Williamson said he hopes to submit survey results to the Kennewick School Board in May.

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