UPDATED: School schedule change considered, public input welcomed Weekly early release for teacher development proposed across the SU

By Shawn Cunningham
© Telegraph Publishing LLC

The boards of the Green Mountain Unified School District and the Ludlow Mt. Holly Unified Union School District will meet on at 6 p.m. on Wednesday March 23 at Cavendish Town Elementary to decide if they will make a substantial scheduling change that would increase professional development time for teachers but could also complicate families’ child-care arrangements.

Superintendent Lauren Fierman lays out the benefits and costs of the change. Image courtesy of Okemo Valley TV

The change would also align the schedules of Green Mountain High and Chester-Andover, Ludlow and Mt. Holly elementary schools with Cavendish Town Elementary, which for about 30 years has released students early on Tuesdays so that teachers could participate in professional development  intended to make them more effective teachers and keep them up-to-date on education initiatives.

At the Feb. 17 GMUSD meeting, Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Lauren Fierman said that the Act 46 merger that created the two districts did not create a single schedule across the SU and that the other four schools do not have the CTES arrangement.

Those four schools do professional development during a full “in-service day” held about every other month. Cavendish Town Elementary observes those days as well.

Fierman said the schools have surveyed stakeholders for their thoughts about instituting “weekly embedded early release” and found that in most schools the staff and families are split on the idea. In Cavendish, according to Fierman, families are likewise split, but that teachers are about 80 percent in favor of early release.

“I believe there is a clear benefit for our teachers and therefore our students from having this,” said Fierman who also noted that the board must weigh that against the cost of the disruption of families’ childcare arrangements. She noted that Cavendish is a small school and could help fill the childcare gap but whether the other schools could do that would be an “if?”

Fierman urged the board not to make the decision based on the surveys, but on whether the benefit to teachers and students outweighs the difficulty it can cause families. She noted that there are other school systems in the area that do this once a month or more often and that the reasons they may do away with it is not because there isn’t a benefit, but because of family difficuties.

“At this point I think everyone is aware of the issues,”  Fierman said, adding that it comes down to balancing the benefits against the costs.

Fierman said she spoke with the LMH board in the previous week and they agreed to hold off on making a decision until she could speak with the GM board and ideally that the two boards could meet later in March.

“While it is my recommendation that we do this,” said Fierman, “it will stop being my recommendation … if one board says no while the other says yes. Each district gets to make up its own mind, and is not bound by the other’s decision.”

On Tuesday, Fierman said that she and all the board members are glad to have parents input at any of the meetings and they are also welcome to email her directly.

“I really do welcome that input,” said Fierman whose email address is lauren.fierman@trsu.org

Meetings where the public can weigh in on the issue will be held as follows. Check The Telegraph for agendas and Zoom links for the second and third meetings.

LMHUUSD 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9 at the Mount Holly School, 150 School St., and on Zoom at https://trsu.zoom.us/j/87233038168

GMUSD 6 p.m. , Thursday March 17 at Green Mountain High School, 716 Rt. 103 South in Chester and on Zoom at https://trsu.zoom.us/j/85863233984

Joint Board meeting tentatively set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23 at Cavendish Town Elementary School.

Parent and Teacher Survey Results

CAES Parent Survey June 2021

CAES Staff Survey June 2021

CTES Parent Survey June 2021

CTES Staff Survey June 2021

GMHS Parent Survey June 2021

GMHS Staff Survey June 2021

Reasons for Tuesday Afternoons (Prepared by CTES)

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