School board members generally reacted favorably to proposals presented Wednesday that would give elementary school teachers more time out of the classroom for planning, collaboration and professional development.
The next question, one they did not address, will be how to fit the ideas into their budget.
Four members of a district task force presented their proposals to the board, advocating increases in time set aside for teachers to focus on those three purposes. Task force members stressed the importance of all three, and urged that all three be accommodated separately rather than merged into a single package.
The potential hitch is that the most extensive of the plans calls for an additional $451,000 in spending to hire the 9.8 additional teachers that would be needed. Shelley Aistrup, principal and Northview School and a task force member, said even the least extensive proposal would require hiring 2.8 additional teachers and add $128,800 to the district bottom line.
In all three proposed schedules, the planning time per week to do things such as prepare lessons and grade is increased from 300 minutes to 330 minutes.
The plan deemed the best by the task force sets aside eight days for professional development and eight early release days plus 60 minutes per week for collaboration time.
The next best plan has eight days for professional development time and eight early release days for collaboration.
The least of the three plans has 6.5 days for professional development, and four early release days and three half-days for collaboration.
Board members, who are expected to discuss the proposal at a meeting in January, did not discuss the cost implications Wednesday.
“If we’re going to be the best school district, we need collaborative time, we need planning time, we have to provide this for our teachers,” said board member Walt Pesaresi. He said the board could not continue hoping that planning and collaboration occurred “between 4 and 5 in the evening … it doesn’t happen.”
Some board members wanted more information on the impact of the proposal on student contact time, voicing a concern that it might be diminished.