The last week of school will not be a period of fun, games and poor attendance for Davis School District students this year.
The Board of Education has adopted guidelines requiring schools to develop specific time-use plans for the last week of school to ensure that academic pursuits continue as long as possible and to curtail use of entertainment videos and other non-teaching activities.Andy Odoardi, chairman of the Time on Task Committee, which developed the guidelines, said the group focused efforts on the end of school this year. The group will continue to meet to develop guidelines that can be used for other problem periods of the school year, such as the time before the Christmas break and the end of each quarter.
The committee was formed earlier this year after parents complained that time before the Christmas break in many schools was not focused on academic pursuits but simply on entertaining students.
The plan submitted by the committee requires that each school develop a specific plan for approval by the district administration. Guidelines and model plans have been included to give schools an idea of what is expected.
Odoardi said that because it is late in the year, some compromise was made for activities involving graduating seniors where plans have already been made. He said members hope that next year, those activities will be more limited and will be structured and timed so they have only a minimal impact on the teaching program during the last week of school.
"Our intent is to move toward a more structured program that will let students and parents know what to expect," Odoardi said.
The guidelines say school plans should establish testing days for final exams to make that process more effective and uniform. These test days will fall in the last week of school. Specific guidelines involving absenteeism, tardiness and truancy will also be included. Uniform makeup plans for missed work will also be addressed.
"We have to be sure that we are fair. That is the key to getting public acceptance," Odoardi said.
One aspect of the plan that is likely to stir controversy is not allowing early testing so that students can be released from school early. Odoardi said parents will have to realize that school is not over until the last day and will have to plan vacations with that in mind.
Implementing an effective plan will take time and effort and will require commitment from school faculties, Odoardi said. That is one reason the committee recommends that each school develop its own plan in consultation with faculty members. However, the final plan must be acceptable to the district administration, which will review the plan for compliance with the new guidelines.
The board enthusiastically endorsed the guidelines and gave the committee a go-ahead to work on guidelines for other problem periods.
Students did get one reprieve. The board accepted the committee's recommendation that the last day of school and the day before the start of the Christmas break be shortened by two hours through early release. Odoardi said this simply responds to the realities of those school days.