MISD Approves 2023-2024 Learning Calendar
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about many changes in this country, one of them being schools in several districts across the U.S. adjusting to a four-day calendar.
While that choice has not caught hold in Texas as much as in some other states, for example, Colorado, it is a topic of discussion.
In Midlothian, the board of trustees voted Monday to try something in between the five-day week that has been the norm for as long as anyone can remember and the proposed four-day week. It’s a hybrid calendar for the 2023-24 school year if you will.
The decision, which came after the district sent out a survey – which many saw as a vote – asking for comments about a possible four-day week – is drawing mixed reviews.
A press release Monday evening explained the board’s decision, which was approved by a 6-1 vote (Gary Vineyard voted No).
Here are the highlights of that release:
“Based on unprecedented survey participation, the MISD administration felt compelled to give due diligence and study the potential impact of a four-day calendar model. District leaders consulted with Region 10 and other districts with successful implementation plans to learn from the best practices of others. Campus and district leaders looked deeper at the feasibility of this type of calendar option and the district’s capacity to plan for the details associated with this type of change. Ultimately, more time, data, and legislative updates are needed to prepare to implement this model successfully in Midlothian ISD.
“However, Midlothian ISD listened and considered the feedback from families and staff as they created calendar options for the 2023-24 school year. Ultimately, the district made the input given by staff and families a priority to ensure that the learning calendar will positively impact academic outcomes, school/family balance for students and staﬀ, teacher planning and preparation time, and staff recruitment and retention.”
Goal: Finding A Work/Life Balance For Students & Staff
The new calendar allows for a student holiday approximately every three weeks. The district stated this allows teachers more planning and collaboration time while also allowing students extended weekends with their families.
The calendar also adds 15 minutes of instructional time each day, but does not add to staff work hours. In all, staff will have 10 days less with students, but the instructional time is increasing overall for the school year.
District officials expect elementary hours to be from 7:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. and secondary hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
The release also noted the district is actively working on revising the agreement with the YMCA to provide low-cost childcare for students on the 10 additional student holidays on the calendar to support families. MISD is also exploring an expansion of district childcare services for faculty children up to the age of 12.
Teachers will continue to have an eight-hour workday with a 30-minute lunch.
You can view the presentation to the school board via board book https://meetings.boardbook.org/Documents/WebViewer/1700?file=c8081888-e607-405f-90de-ee762bd44c94
During the presentation to the board, trustees were given a detailed breakdown of unresolved considerations that prevented the committee from recommending a four day school week. Some of those considerations included only having five months to prepare, the need to increase the school day from 45-55 minutes per day and the impact on students and transportation, the impact on the pay of non-exempt employees and more.
Mixed responses, Love It, Hate It or It’s A Start
Social media was buzzing with mixed reactions following the board’s decision Monday night. Several posted their yay or nay thoughts on the decision on Facebook.
“This looks great for a mom with two in middle school and one in high school. Thanks!” posted April Plemons Bartley.
Danny Jeanes posted on Midlothian Talk, “The district representative stated that they were in no way prepared to go to a four-day week in 2023-24 because they had not fully researched how it would affect some things like quality of education, teacher scheduling or lack of child care for families needing it. Those seemed like some pretty important aspects of implementing a new schedule to me.”
Allison Barger came to the defense of the district concerning the survey.
“I don’t understand why people are so up in arms about the survey. It was a survey, not a vote,” she said. “They were assessing public interest before going through the trouble of researching the minute details. Would we have wanted it to go the other way? What if the sub committee had spent tons of time doing the due diligence only to find on the back end that there was zero public interest? Wouldn’t that have been a major waste of time and tax dollars? The survey never promised an outcome, it most definitely stated that it was to assess community interest.”
Parents of children with autism, that depend on routines, are also concerned about the disruption to their lives and the impact on learning.
Bethany Connor Dowd wrote on Facebook, “I am very grateful to all of the community members and MISD staff for the hours and days put into creating a calendar with all perspectives in mind. If you haven’t, I highly encourage you to watch the board meeting and the thorough explanation given by experienced educators to provide greater insight into the decisions made.”
MISD Teachers React
The decision is also drawing mixed responses from teachers.
“Teacher here. Not a fan!” exclaimed Sarah Larkin Cooper. “So many questions. This calendar is not the same as what was surveyed earlier. Above all, I’m disappointed our board would put anything to a vote without getting our input and feedback or giving us – and parents – different options to choose from.”
Mandi Bienart wrote, “And those saying we will not work more…what teacher can run out the door as soon as the kids leave? This just extended my day to at least 4:30. As a teacher with elementary school aged children this now puts a burden on me to find childcare on those Fridays they are off.
‘Students get more time with family’, not if they are a teacher’s kid!
And as a non-core subject without data, I do not need 3 hours to analyze data! We asked for more planning time yes, but not more guided planning time. That is the least productive for someone with 5 preps.”
On the other hand, teacher Christi Corbin seems to be a huge fan of the decision.
“Thank you MISD for creating a calendar that gives teachers time to effectively create, plan, collaborate, organize, communicate and prepare on behalf of our amazing students,” she posted. “I believe this calendar will draw so many phenomenal teachers to our district and retain teachers who love to teach. I feel respected, honored and valued with the creation of this calendar.”
Kara Walsleben Haley wrote “A four day week would have been so nice but would still mean grading and planning/prepping M-Th late in the evening. This option allows ample time for teachers to plan, communicate, collaborate, during normal business hours and not on family time. I’m pumped!!”
FDN contacted MISD and offered a chance to respond to the social media comments but a district official stated they had no additional comments other than the official press release. We encourage parents and community members to watch the video of last night’s school board meeting to see first hand the concerns, questions and research conducted by the committee.