Tag Archives: school calendar

Vote now on the seven school calendar concepts

At the April 30 community calendar meeting, participants identified the benefits and concerns of seven calendar concepts. At the end of the meeting, participants were asked to vote yes or no on each one (abstaining was also permitted), answering this question:

Does this calendar type have enough merit to move it forward for more consideration and "fleshing out" with specific detail and actual days?

If you were not able to attend the meeting, this calendar concepts online straw poll is your opportunity to weigh in.  You can vote yes or no on each calendar concept, or you can abstain.

The online straw poll closes at 8 am on Monday, May 13 so that results can be included in the calendar discussion by the Northfield School Board at the 7 PM meeting.

Northfield Public Schools calendar concepts straw poll

Click here to take calendar concepts straw poll.

And if you missed the April 24th 8 pm live video conference via Google Hangout Air, you can view the YouTube recording:

Do you live in/near downtown Northfield? Does the school calendar matter to you? Then your input is needed

Some news on the two Northfield-related citizen engagement projects that I’m working on:

NDDC's Ross Currier, making the roundsSchool Calendar Straw Poll
Left: my photo of the NDDC’s Ross Currier, navigating icy sidewalks last week to distribute invitations to residents who live near downtown, inviting them to a residential stakeholders meeting this Thursday, 8 pm at the Northfield Public Library. Details here.

Right: a screenshot of the Northfield School Calendar Conversation straw poll that’s now live. Details here.

Photo albums: engaged citizens and the Northfield Public School District

Back in mid-January, I took photos of people speaking at open mic at the Northfield Board of Education meeting about the proposed calendar (blog post here).  This week, I took photos of people attending the calendar conversation meeting at the High School (blog post here).  I had my consulting hat on for both events but I thought I’d blog the photos here on LoGro, adding to my collection of 15,000+ photos of Northfield-related events and scenes since 2003.

See the large slideshow (recommended) of 38 photos from the Jan. 14 meeting, or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

See the large slideshow (recommended) of 32 photos from the Mar. 7 meeting, or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

A school calendar conversation with the Northfield community: back to square one

Back in early January, I blogged here on LoGro that Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Chris Richardson had hired me (with my Wigley and Associates consultant hat on) to manage the online engagement for the  ‘balanced calendar’ that was being proposed.   It never happened. Chris later wrote:

At the Jan. 14, 2013 Northfield Board of Education meeting, 26 parents, students and community members spoke with concern about the proposed change to the school district calendar structure for 2013-14. The board voted unanimously to stop consideration of a more balanced calendar for the 2013-14 school year. They directed the administration to recommend a 2013-14 calendar in an upcoming meeting based on the traditional academic year with an after-Labor Day start. In addition, the board requested that administration develop a plan to more deeply engage our community in a discussion about what kind of academic calendar will most benefit students in the future.

Instead, I worked with the District to manage the online engagement for the Transformational Technology proposal which was approved by the Board on Feb. 12.

Northfield Schools Calendar ConversationI’ve now been hired by the District to manage the online portion of a community discussion about school calendars.

I’ve got the project blogsite up and tonight, the District is hosting the first in a series of three community meetings led by Mary Grace Hanson, Director of Teaching and Learning.

(The other dates are April 2 and April 30. All meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the high school upper cafeteria.)

School Board Member Rob Hardy has been writing about school calendars on his Learning Curve blog.

And here’s a Feb. 27 Northfield Patch video by Supt. Chris Richardson talking about the calendar conversation:

How goes the school district’s late starts?

659-logo-150x65 Kari Eliason has a guest column in today’s Nfld News: Parents have questions about late starts. Allen Koch has a letter to the editor, too: Late start is affecting the environment. Last week: Late starts lead to traffic jams outside schools.

The Feb. discussion (287 comments) here on LG – Guest blogger Kathleen Galotti: My objections to the proposed changes to the school calendar.

Podcast: Kathie Galotti on the proposed district-wide 1 hr late start/early release

Griff Wigley, Kathie Galotti, Our studio guest this week: Kathie Galotti, parent of two K-12 students and Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Carleton College, discussing the flap over the proposed district-wide 1 hr late start/early release on Mondays next year. I’ve turned off comments on this blog post. Continue the discussion (over 80 comments thus far) attached to Kathie’s Feb. 17 blog post, My objections to the proposed changes to the school calendar.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes. Continue reading Podcast: Kathie Galotti on the proposed district-wide 1 hr late start/early release

Guest blogger Kathleen Galotti: My objections to the proposed changes to the school calendar

659-logoI’ll begin this with a letter to the editor I submitted to the Northfield News, which I think is self-explanatory:

On Feb 9 the Northfield School Board entertained two options for next year’s school calendar.  Both involve having a one hour late-start EVERY MONDAY of the year, so that teachers can have the time to meet in professional learning communities.  These meetings would replace the four days that have traditionally been scheduled with 2 hours either late start or early release.  Parents have one month to comment on the proposed calendar.

I strongly object to this change.

First, it will further reduce instructional time for each student.  We already have fewer instructional days (173) than other areas of the country (e.g., the Northeast, which has about 180); now we are chipping away at those fewer days.  We are reminded each year by building principals that every minute of instruction counts.  If true, then reduction in instructional time is a very big issue.

Second, this calendar, while perhaps convenient and congenial to teachers and principals, is problematic for working parents of elementary students.  Working parents are unlikely to be able to stay home until 9 or 9:30 every week with their young children.   They will now have to pay extra to have supervision for their young elementary children (or else leave them unsupervised).  The plan is not “cost-neutral” as claimed by the district, but a new cost imposed unilaterally on parents.

My third objection is that the only options on the table contain this late-start provision.  Parents had no voice in formulating these options, or discussing with the committee what effects this change would have on them.

Lastly, the justification given for this change is that “research” has “shown” that professional learning communities are beneficial for education.  I find this statement vague and possibly misleading.    Our teachers have been in PLCs for at least some time already, and our performance as a school district is heading down, not up.  What exactly is the evidence, IN NORTHFIELD, that PLC’s are improving student experience?

My experience as a parent is that the Northfield school district is a very staff-centric one.  We do (and fail to do) far too much to suit the convenience and preferences of teachers and administrators, instead of centering efforts, energies, and resources on students.  Parental concerns are ignored far too often.   It’s time for this focus to change.

I urge other concerned parents to make their views known to school board members, and to do so soon.

I haven’t yet heard back from the News—usually they publish my letters though sometimes it takes a few weeks.  They also limit letters to 400 words, so there is not a lot of room for expansion.

But as I wrote the letter, and as I phoned and emailed school board members about the issue before writing the letter, I became increasingly clear about how I felt about a larger issue:  The Northfield School district has become increasingly staff-centric, and that compromises the overall educational quality delivered to its students.

I don’t deny that having teachers be in professional learning communities  has value.  I question the relative value of those meetings against instructional time for kids.  I also question why these meetings can’t take place after school or before school (in the case of Bridgewater, which already has a very late start).  I suspect the answer has something to do with the large proportion of teachers who coach.   But that raises the question, why is coaching more important a priority than teaching.  And, coaching aside, I question why the burden of holding these meetings should fall upon families with both parents working outside the home, or single parents who work outside the home (like me).

For more information, see the ISD 659 website has PDF of background information and Frequently Asked Questions.