The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider the district’s proposed school calendar, which includes more built-in planning days for teachers.
The proposed calendar includes “teacher readiness days” that’ll represent days teachers spend planning, recording and reporting their work, according to Monday’s meeting agenda.
The calendar draft approved last year showed 10 teacher readiness days set for August 2023 before the academic year began. The 2024-25 calendar draft, up for board approval Monday, suggests eight teacher readiness or planning days in August. Eight additional days are sprinkled throughout the year, mostly on Mondays and Fridays, and one on a Wednesday.
Staff negotiation teams also tentatively agreed that the calendar should meet a range of 170 to 175 instructional days to provide teachers more flexibility. Currently, it’s based on a specific number of days by grade level.
“The 2024-2025 calendar aims to better align the EC-12 (early childhood through 12th grade) calendar across all levels, though we recognize this is a work in progress,” according to the agenda item.
Additionally, the committee is suggesting the number of instructional days increase to better support student needs and act as additional buffers for potential inclement weather. One inclement weather makeup day — April 21, 2025 — is included in the calendar draft.
The committee opted to keep the entire week off for students and nine-month staff for fall break, set for Nov. 25 through Nov. 29. Twelve-month staff would be scheduled to work Monday through Wednesday that week. Thursday and Friday would remain paid holidays for all eligible staff.
The first full day of school for kindergarten through 12th grade students is set for Aug. 14, 2024, and the last full day May 22, 2025. Spring break aligns with the University of Kansas’ spring break, falling on March 17 through March 21, 2025.
Last year, there was conversation around implementing a four-day week, but the board ultimately voted in February 2023 to maintain a five-day week calendar. School board members in April said they didn’t see a four-day week model in the district’s near future, and there was no mention of a four-day week on Monday’s agenda.
The district’s calendar committee, which includes teachers, staff, and building-and district-level administrators, met to draft the proposed calendar. Committee members will present their work before board members take their vote Monday.
View the proposed calendar and the committee’s presentation for Monday attached to the meeting agenda item.
In other business:
• Employee retention and recruitment: The district’s human resources team on Monday will present to the school board its work to retain and recruit employees.
HR has been working to gather information via a survey platform, Educator Perceptions and Insights Center.
Classified staff members who participated in the EPIC survey this year marked whether they felt actively disengaged, disengaged, moderately engaged, engaged or actively engaged in their work. A plurality of respondents — 46% — said they felt disengaged, and another 16% felt actively disengaged, according to results in HR staff’s report for Monday. The smallest percentage — 5% — said they felt actively engaged, and 12% said they felt engaged.
Staff members don’t have EPIC survey results for certified staff, or teachers, yet, but they are set to discuss plans for those results Monday. Last year’s results for teachers showed a high level of disengagement.
To expand its recruiting reach, HR staff will add career fairs at two universities to their outreach, including the University of Texas at El Paso and Tennessee State University.
Staff members will also discuss wellness initiatives for staff as well as announce information regarding the new registered teacher apprenticeship program that will be available to the district, and schools statewide, beginning this fall.
View an HR update document and presentation for Monday attached to the agenda item.
• Overnight accommodations policy: The board will consider a draft policy on overnight stays during school-sponsored travel.
The Kansas Legislature in 2023 voted to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of the anti-transgender bill HB 2138, which mandates that all districts have a policy “requiring that separate overnight accommodations be provided for students of each biological sex during school district sponsored travel that requires overnight stays by students.”
The district’s draft policy states in part that “In coed school district-sponsored travel cases, room assignments will primarily be based on whether the student is male or female.” The policy is part of the board’s consent agenda — a list of items that are generally considered routine and approved with one vote unless the superintendent or a board member asks to discuss an item.
• Executive session: Monday’s meeting will begin with a 20-minute executive session, or closed-door meeting, to include Superintendent Anthony Lewis, Board Clerk Alyse Donnell, and MVP Law attorney Greg Goheen. No action is set to follow.
The school board meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Meetings are open to the public, livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/@USD497, and broadcast on Midco channel 26. Full meeting agendas are available on BoardDocs, via go.boarddocs.com.
To give public comment during the board meeting, sign up before the meeting starts either in person or by emailing PublicComment@usd497.org. Commenters may request to participate by Webex video/phone conferencing.
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