Canyons district considers elementary schedule change

Published: Thursday, April 12 2012 12:55 p.m. MDT

Canyons School District Superintendent Dr. David Doty talks to students about college. The Canyons School District is considering changes to elementary school schedules.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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SANDY — The Canyons School District is considering changes to elementary school schedules, which would end early-out Fridays in lieu of consistent class time throughout the week.

Under the proposal, 20 minutes of class time would be trimmed Monday to Thursday and allocated to Friday, resulting in each day's classes beginning and ending at the same time. Teachers would still be contracted to an 8-hour day and would have a larger portion of preparation time each day as opposed to a single block of time at the end of the week.

"For years we've been hearing from teachers and principals that we need time in our day to collaborate with each other," Canyons spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook said.

Ross Rogers, president of the Canyons Education Association, said teachers in his organization are split 50/50 on the proposed change. He said there is a general feeling of fatigue among teachers after a number of recent district changes that may be contributing to opposition.

"It's just feeling like a top-down decision to many teachers," he said.

In addition to providing time for daily collaboration, Toomer-Cook said the new schedule will hopefully do away with the thinking of some parents that attendance on Fridays is optional.

Rogers agreed and said that if the schedule change is approved, it will hopefully make clear that Fridays are a regular curriculum day.

"Parents do view it as a wasted day and an OK day to take a three-day vacation," he said.

The new schedule would also provide for seven half-days to be scheduled throughout the academic year for professional development, something that Toomer-Cook said is necessary to implement the new Common Core standards but hasn't been addressed with adequate funding from the state.

"It's a way to get professional development in without any money" she said.

Toomer-Cook said the plan was presented to each of the district's 29 elementary school faculties for input before going before the Canyons Board of Education. The board gave preliminary approval to the schedule change in March and is expected to address it during its meeting on April 17.

"We have community groups working on what are the issues and how do we solve them," she said.

The CEA has not taken an official position on the schedule change and hit a point of contention early on in discussions with the district, but Rogers said it has since returned to the table and are working to address concerns from teachers and parents.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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