Changing the Clock and Calendar?

LPS Board Considers Start Time and PLC Changes

Hayden Peirce, Copy Editor

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Recently, the Littleton Public Schools (LPS) Board of Education has been considering different plans regarding moving start times back and implementing weekly, hour long PLCs. On March 9, the Board met to discuss the potential changes. Here’s what we learned from that meeting.  

 

Start Times

Initially, the LPS Board was considering four separate plans to delay the start times, two of which were deemed as viable options. Plan 1C, the first of the two viable options, was to delay the start times a half hour. School would have started at 7:51 and ended at 2:58 under plan 1C. Under plan 1E, school would have started at 8:20 and ended at 3:27. Under both plans, transportation schedules would have been adjusted to accommodate the new times, according to a presentation on the district website. Despite these considerations, the district is not ready to make a decision regarding the start times for the 2017-2018 school year without further study, according to Superintendent Brian Ewert.

“Did the waters get muddied around start and end times? Absolutely. And I’ll own that. It was a good conversation, it got us moving in the right direction, but at this point we are strictly talking about changing the PLCs,” Ewert said.

In a survey taken by the district of high school students from Arapahoe, Heritage and Littleton, 55% stated that starting school one hour later would be better for them, while 44% said that it would be worse for them or did not care. This comes in stark contrast to the responses when asked whether ending school one hour later would be better or worse. 62% of students stated that ending school one hour later would be worse for them, while just 13% stated that it would be better for them.

Based on the results of surveys of students, staff and parents as well as multiple other factors, Ewert said at the board meeting that the district would be “uncomfortable moving forward with changing the start times without further study.” Although the Board does not take action on the matter until March 23, at this point it appears highly unlikely that the start times will be changed for the upcoming year. The time changes have not been ruled out for the 2018-2019 school year, however.

 

PLCs

The Board has also been considering changing the schedule of PLCs throughout the year. The change would come in the form of a weekly hour-long PLC. Options being discussed include both an late start and an early release.

If the weekly PLC option is implemented, the length of the school day must increase by a few minutes to comply with Colorado law, which requires students to be in school for a designated amount of minutes per year.

Increasing PLC time throughout the year would also increase cost, most of which would “be absorbed not by [teacher] salary increases but by training,” according Ewert. As for how much the increase would cost, Ewert said that he “…couldn’t put a number to that yet,” but that LPS would want to “compensate teachers for their extra time and pay them equitably and fairly.”

The additional PLC time, if passed, would be intended to allow for more collaboration between teachers of different grade levels at the elementary and middle school levels. According to a group of teachers from Peabody Elementary School that were present at the Board meeting, this inter-grade-level collaboration does happen, but is rare.

Members were torn regarding the advantages of increased PLC time for high school teachers. Some Board members and presenters which argued that high school teachers did not need an increase in PLC time because there are, according to those members, not enough high school PLCs to justify an increase. Other members argued that high school teachers did use PLCs time effectively, saying in regards to the high school teachers that did not make use of the PLC time, “I think we are talking about an outlier group here. I think most high school teachers have very robust PLCs.”

Board treasurer Kelly Perez said during the meeting that she had been “disappointed in the decision making process so far” and did not want to “mess with families’ calendars until [the Board] had talked about… PLCs, bus schedules, and late starts.”

Secretary of the Board Robert Reichardt echoed that statement, saying that it was better to “go slow to go fast” and thoroughly discuss all advantages and disadvantages of adjusting the PLC time throughout the year.

The Board is expected to take action regarding the matter on March 23. At this point however, it is unclear as to which of the PLC plans, if any, the Board will vote for.

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