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School bells will ring later

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | April 28, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Monday mornings won't be the same in Coeur d'Alene schools next year.

Beginning in September, the first bell of the day will ring later on Mondays if the school board approves a new schedule devised to give teachers time during their workday to meet, discuss lesson plans, instruction methods and goals.

"We know teaching and learning gets better when teachers collaborate," said Superintendent Hazel Bauman.

Trustees are expected to vote on the new schedule during their regular meeting at 5 p.m. Monday at the Midtown Center, 1505 N. Fifth St.

Bauman said administrators set up a leadership team to work on the school start and finish times last fall.

The concept of "job embedded collaboration" for teachers is something the district has been trying to do for about a decade.

It has being done successfully in schools in Sandpoint and Spokane, Bauman said.

The proposed new schedule will give teachers about two hours to collaborate within their contracted day.

For elementary school students, Monday morning class time will begin at 10 a.m. instead of 8:55 a.m. For the rest of the week, school will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., adding an extra 15 minutes to each day to make up for the instructional minutes lost on Monday mornings.

The district polled its teachers and out of 400 responses received, just 16 were not in favor of the collaboration schedule.

"My whole belief is that this will improve teaching and learning or I wouldn't be doing this," Bauman said.

Bauman expects some will ask why this isn't being done after school.

Many teachers already continue working at the schools after their contracted work day ends, Bauman said, but many have their own families and other after school obligations, including coaching and advising commitments, making it difficult to have full participation.

"Everyone has to be on the same page for this to work," Bauman said.

At the middle schools, the Monday class schedule will begin at 9:10 a.m. and end at 2:40 p.m., with a 7:55 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. schedule the rest of the week.

Classes at the middle schools now begin at 8 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m.

Breakfasts and lunches will still be provided every day, including Mondays.

Bauman said for many parents, it will mean making different child care arrangements.

"We would not have gone forward with this without School Plus," Bauman said.

The school district's before and after school child care program will be expanded to meet the demands of the new schedule.

The additional hours will be provided at no additional charge for children already enrolled in School Plus. For families who want to enroll their children in the program on Mondays only, there will be a $14 monthly charge.

In a letter sent home to parents this week, Bauman advised that special arrangements will be made for families who need child care but can't afford it.

"Absolutely no one who cannot afford child care will have to pay for this additional child care burden," Bauman wrote.

Bus routes are being adjusted, and parents are being advised that their children will be picked up about an hour later on Monday mornings.

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