MISD approves the 2023-2024 educational calendar
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to this country, one of which has been the adjustment of schools in several districts across the United States to a four-day timetable.
While this choice hasn’t caught on in Texas as much as it has in other states, such as Colorado, it is a topic of discussion.
In Midlothian, the board voted on Monday to try something between the five-day week that has been the norm for as long as anyone can remember and the proposed four-day week. It’s a hybrid calendar for the 2023-24 school year, if you will.
The decision, which came after the district sent out a poll — which many saw as a vote — asking for comments on a possible four-day week — is drawing mixed opinions.
A press release Monday night explained the board’s decision, which passed in a 6-1 vote (Gary Vineyard voted No).
Here are the highlights of that release:
“Based on unprecedented survey participation, the MISD administration felt compelled to perform due diligence and study the potential impact of a four-day calendar model. District leaders consulted with Region 10 and other districts with successful implementation plans to learn from each other’s best practices. Campus and district leaders explored the feasibility of this type of calendar option and the district’s ability to plan for the details associated with this type of change. Ultimately, more time, data and legislative updates are needed to prepare for a successful implementation of this model in the Midlothian DSI.
“However, Midlothian ISD has listened to and considered feedback from families and staff when creating calendar options for the 2023-24 school year. Ultimately, the district prioritized the input of staff and families to ensure that the learning calendar has a positive impact on academic outcomes, home/school balance for students and staff, planning and preparation time for teachers and staff recruitment and retention.
Objective: Find a work-life balance for students and staff
The new calendar foresees a student holiday approximately every three weeks. The district said this allows teachers more time for planning and collaboration, while also allowing students to extend weekends with their families.
The calendar also adds 15 minutes of class each day, but it doesn’t add to staff working hours. Overall, staff will have 10 fewer days with students, but teaching hours are increasing overall for the school year.
District officials expect primary hours to be 7:30am to 3:15pm and secondary hours to be 8:30am to 4:15pm
The release also noted that the district is actively working on reviewing the agreement with the YMCA to provide low-cost child care for students during the 10 additional scheduled student holidays to support families. MISD is also exploring an expansion of district childcare services for faculty children up to age 12.
Teachers will continue to have an eight-hour workday with a 30-minute lunch.
You can view the presentation to the school board via the board book https://meetings.boardbook.org/Documents/WebViewer/1700?file=c8081888-e607-405f-90de-ee762bd44c94
During the presentation to the board, the trustees were provided with a detailed breakdown of the outstanding considerations that prevented the committee from recommending a four-day school week. Some of these considerations included just five months to prepare, the need to increase the school day from 45-55 minutes per day, and the impact on students and transportation, the impact on non-exempt employee pay, and more.
Mixed answers, Love It, Hate It or It’s A Start
Social media drew mixed reactions following the council’s decision on Monday evening. Several posted their positive or negative thoughts on the decision on Facebook.
“Sounds great for a mom with two in middle school and one in high school. Thanks!” posted April Plemons Bartley.
Danny Jeanes posted in Midlothian Talk: “The district rep said he was in no way prepared to go to a four day week in 2023-24 because he hadn’t researched how deeply it would affect some things like the quality of education , teacher scheduling, or lack of childcare for families in need.Those seemed like some pretty important aspects of implementing a new program.
Allison Barger has spoken out in defense of the district regarding the poll.
“I don’t understand why people are so upset about the poll. It was a poll, not a vote,” he said. “They were weighing the public interest before going to the trouble of researching the finer details. due diligence only to find on the back end that there was no public interest? Wouldn’t that have been a huge waste of time and tax money? The survey never promised a result, it firmly stated that it was to gauge the community interest “.
Parents of children with autism, who are dependent on routine, are also concerned about the disruption to their lives and the impact on learning.
Bethany Connor Dowd wrote on Facebook: “I am so grateful to all community members and the MISD staff for the hours and days dedicated to creating a calendar with all perspectives in mind. If not, I strongly encourage you to watch the board meeting and in-depth explanation given by expert educators to provide more insight into the decisions being made.
MISD teachers react
The decision is also eliciting mixed responses from teachers.
“Teacher here. Not a fan! exclaimed Sarah Larkin Cooper. “So many questions. This calendar is not the same as the one reviewed previously. Above all, I am disappointed that our board would put anything to a vote without receiving our input and feedback or giving us and the parents several options including choose.
Mandi Bienart wrote: “And those who say we won’t work anymore… what teacher can run out the door as soon as the children leave? This just extended my day to at least 4:30. As a teacher with school aged children this now puts a burden on me finding childcare on those Fridays they are free.
‘Students spend more time with family’, not if they are a teacher’s child! And as a non-core subject without data, I don’t need 3 hours to analyze the data! We asked for more planning time yes, but not more guided planning time. This is the least productive for someone with 5 preps.
On the other hand, teacher Christi Corbin seems to be a big fan of the decision.
“Thank you MISD for creating a calendar that gives teachers time to effectively create, plan, collaborate, organize, communicate and prepare on behalf of our amazing students,” she posted. “I believe this calendar will attract so many phenomenal teachers to our district and keep teachers who love to teach. I feel respected, honored and appreciated for creating this calendar.”
Kara Walsleben Haley wrote: “A four day week would have been so nice, but it would still mean evaluating and planning/prepping late evening M-Th. This option leaves ample time for teachers to plan, communicate, collaborate, during normal working hours and outside the family. I’m pumped!!”
FDN contacted MISD and offered the ability to respond to comments on social media, but a district official said he has no further comments beyond the official press release. We encourage parents and community members to watch the video of last night’s school board meeting to see firsthand the concerns, questions and research conducted by the board.