Davis County junior high school students could soon have longer weekends.
The Davis County School Board is considering a proposal by junior high principals to shorten Friday by one hour in all of the districts 14 middle schools. The shortened day, the principals said, would give all of a school's teachers a planning period at the same time."This planning period will allow teachers to all gather together and discuss what is really important to them," said Cristine Blanch, Fairfield Junior High principal.
The shortened day would also allow the schools to hold seminars with guest speakers, workshops or planning sessions during the common planning period. The planning period will not include a rigid schedule for teachers, Blanch said, but instead will try to foster enthusiasm for the program among educators.
"We can be very flexible without diminishing the value of the time," she said.
Currently, three junior high schools in the school district have a short day as part of the Centennial School program, Blanch said. In the implementation of the short day at those schools, the biggest concern for parents wasn't the fact that kids would get home early but that the teachers actually used the planning period wisely.
"There's a real accountability to the taxpayers that we're implementing positive programs, not just sending kids home early," Blanch said.
Required hours for education will not suffer nor will any employees' schedule change, Blanch said. To continue adhering to the 990 hours of required school time, the short day will include classes of 43 minutes, while the other four days will have 48 minute class periods. Current class periods run 45 minutes. All contract employees will continue their normal hours.
Students, teachers and parents will continually witness the benefits of the program, Superintendent Darrell White said.
"This gives us consistency in training and will greatly benefit staff development," he said.
The principals expect strong support from all parties, especially when they realize that this move will only improve education, Mueller Park Junior High Principal Steve Mangel said.
"The thing that really excites people is that we are maintaining the integrity of the education," he said.
Besides, the move is a step toward the future strengthening of education in general, said Jane Muna, Centerville Junior High principal.
"We feel this will help us better meet the needs of our schools and students and take them into the 21st century," she said.