Schools’ early release could move to Monday

For five years, the majority of Durango School District 9-R students have left school early on Fridays – not because of wholesale class cutting, but to give teachers time to participate in professional learning communities, or “PLCs.”

Now, Superintendent Daniel Snowberger is aiming to move early release from Friday afternoons to Monday afternoons.

When the district originally implemented early release in 2007, it chose Fridays assuming it would cause parents the least inconvenience.

Early release was designed to allot teachers a consistent block of time to “collaborate with one another, analyze student performance data and plan to adjust instruction as needed to improve student outcomes,” Snowberger said.

In a letter sent to parents dated Tuesday, Snowberger wrote that “while Fridays presented the least impact on families, it has proven to be ineffective and presented numerous challenges internally. Those challenges have limited our ability to use this time effectively, and the shift from Fridays to Mondays for our early release time should move us closer to our intended outcome of improving student achievement.”

Despite the implementation of PLC time, overall, district students have been performing worse, not better, he wrote.

Snowberger noted that in reviewing other Colorado school districts that allow PLC time, not one other district schedules it on Friday.

Some parents said the proposed move of early release from Friday to Monday would be difficult to accommodate given work schedules.

In his letter, Snowber-ger said the district would provide options to support working parents “who are unable to have their children arrive home early,” but he did not describe the provisions the district was considering.

Some parents who did not want to be identified also complained that the district was bulldozing the proposal into effect without consulting them or asking for feedback.

Snowberger is scheduled to meet with parents Monday in the school district Administration Building to discuss the change.

In his letter, Snowberger said that if moving PLCs to Monday afternoons didn’t prove effective in improving students’ results next year, the practice would be abolished.

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