At its meeting tonight, the Clayton school board delayed Clayton Superintendent Edmond Heatley’s proposal to release students early every Wednesday to create teacher planning time.
The board’s vote to delay seems a wise course of action given the abbreviated timeline for the dramatic shift in the school schedule.
Under the proposal that Heatley unveiled to the board eight days ago, elementary schools would be release 60 minutes early, middle schools would be released 75 minutes early and high schools would be released 90 minutes early.
Clayton parents argued it was crazy to spring this change on them just days before classes resume. Clayton students return to class Aug. 13.
Heatley ought to have consulted his counterpart in DeKalb. DeKalb’s Cheryl Atkinson found similar parental resistance when she floated three calendar options that all included a Wednesday early release. Even thought Atkinson put forth her proposals in April, DeKalb parents complained that it was too short notice to change the 2012-2013 calendar.
As Clayton board member Jessie Gorrie said, “With parents, the first complaint they have is the loss of instructional time. “[Arranging] after-school supervision for their children is a second concern.”
Other relevant questions were raised by Sid Chapman, president of the Clayton County Education Association: “The overall feeling is that there wasn’t enough input and time to work out the details…The big question is how will it affect the students and is there enough instructional time? Would that really be beneficial to the students? How will it affect families in terms of kids being released from school that early?”
In an interview with the AJC prior to tonight’s meeting, Heatley seemed confident the early release would happen, saying, ‘If we have to delay a month, we’ll delay a month.”
Not sure Clayton parents will be any happier with the idea in a month.
“The issues is not whether professional development is needed,” Valencia Stovall told the board. “The issue is how it was presented to stakeholders.”
Board members then debated how to respond, including whether they even had the authority to block the plan. After consulting the board’s legal counsel, members concluded they could block Heatley’s plan if they used their authority over the district’s strategic goal of involving the community in decision-making.
Heatley said he plans to hold public meetings about the issue soon and then announce whether he will move forward with the plan.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog