Board approves shortened Wednesdays for Elkhart schools

Elkhart, Ind. Elkhart students will spend a little less time in the classroom every Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, the school board voted unanimously to shorten the school day by 45 minutes once-a-week for every school but Roosevelt.

The early dismissal will allow teachers to meet and talk about what’s working in their classrooms – something many don’t have time for after the school day was lengthened earlier this year to cut transportation costs.

“It's almost painful for me to feel like, for the first time, because we lack collaboration time this year with the new schedule, to see that we are -- if not sliding backwards -- which I think we probably are, we're not moving forward,” said Elkhart Teacher Association President Alex Holtz. “And, that makes me very uncomfortable. “

Teachers say collaboration time is important to the success of their students.

But, some parents are worried another drastic schedule change could have the opposite effect. The early dismissal will start Jan. 8, which one parent says is unfair.

“I'm asking the administration and the school board to leave the school day alone for the sake of the kids and the sake of the parents who, once again, are being asked to make changes in work schedules and child care because the school system, not the family, failed to see this collaboration issue coming down the pike,” said parent Priscilla Jamora.

Jamora says if the school day is going to be shortened once-a-week, the change should be implemented at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year instead of in January.

She’s worried the schedule adjustment is a result of increased pressure for schools to improve ISTEP scores.

“I'm already frustrated with all the emphasis placed on acuity testing,” she said. “And, now I'm told the school day needs to be changed, again. And, it needs to be changed as soon as possible in the name of collaboration.”

As a result of the school day being shortened, Wednesday classes will be a few minutes shorter.

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