Archive for Thursday, January 18, 2007

Staff development options under study

Late start or early dismissal one day a week could offer more time for teacher training

January 18, 2007

The 2007-'08 school year would include more staff development time for teachers, and therefore additional days off for students, if Lansing principals had their druthers.

Lansing schools superintendent Randal Bagby distributed copies of a draft calendar for the next school year at the monthly school board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Bagby said he wanted feedback and comments from district staff, and that dialogue began in earnest Tuesday night with board president Shelly Gowdy asking building principals if they would favor monthly early dismissals to allow more time for staff development and collaboration.

"I've been reading a lot and seeing a lot and hearing a lot about the Leavenworth School District having basically a half a day a month where they release school early and do staff development. I'm just wondering from your points of view if that's something that this board needs to consider since we're talking about the calendar," Gowdy said.

The school district's four building principals all offered their opinions, which generally favored a proposal that would boost staff development time past the five and a half days now built into the calendar.

Assistant Lansing schools superintendent Donna Hughes told the board Kansas City, Kan., schools created more time for staff development by releasing students two hours early every Wednesday.

"That's one of the things that we have talked about," Dike said, referring to a schedule change that would give teachers more time for training. "How are we going to get the things done that we need to get done? The high school would love to see that."

But, Dike said, what works for the high school might not work - schedule wise - for the other three schools.

Lansing Middle School superintendent Kerry Brungardt said more staff development time would be welcomed at LMS, but he would prefer additional whole days rather than half-days.

"A half a day really is not sufficient enough time to get done what you need to get done," Brungardt said. "It seems like you really get into the groove and then it's time to pack up and move on. With that said, any time is better than no time, so it would be a great first step."

Brungardt said the LMS Site Council approached the school board with a request for additional staff development time a few years ago, but the proposal didn't advance.

"I always think the teachers do need more time," Lansing Intermediate School principal Jan Jorgensen said, adding that she thought mornings would be more productive at LIS than afternoons for training.

But Jorgensen said she understood how difficult it already is for some parents to arrange day care and transportation on half-days, whether it be in the morning or afternoon.

Lansing Elementary School principal Tim Newton offered his preference on the day of the week additional training would occur.

"My only concern about doing half-days is doing it on a Friday. I'd rather do it in the middle of the week than the end of the week," Newton said.

That would allow teachers to apply what they've learned in the classroom immediately, he said.

Board member Brian Bode asked Bagby about the possibility of adding a half-day of staff development on the Friday before long weekends such as the Martin Luther King Jr national holiday.

Bagby said the district could look at options like that, but cautioned the board about replacing class instruction time with staff development.

"Whatever you add under the current negotiated agreement will come from student contact time," he said. "The research base is pretty clear on student contact time. It's much more valuable than in-service time in terms of test scores and performance.

"If my opinion's worth anything here, I'm real stingy with student contact time."

Bode also told the board he realized the difficulties parents would face with late starts or early dismissals.

"It's really hard on parents," he said.

The board is scheduled to votes on the calendar at its meeting March 12.

In other action Tuesday, the board:

¢ Heard acknowledgements from Newton. He told board members LES site council Brad Pippin was deployed to Iraq. He thanked the Lansing PTA for a successful Breakfast with Santa event and Coldwell Banker Reilly and Sons for distributing flowers and gum to district staff and students.

¢ Heard acknowledgements from Lansing Intermediate School principal Jan Jorgensen, who also thanked Coldwell Banker Reilly and Sons. She also acknowledged Ron Jackson and David Leger, of the Kansas Army National Guard, for coordinating the Black Hawk helicopter landing at LIS during space camp.

¢ Heard an acknowledgment from Lansing Middle School principal Kerry Brungardt, who thanked LMS social worker Sheryl Chavez for coordinating the school's Angel Tree, which benefited more than a dozen area families during the holidays.

¢ Heard an acknowledgment from Lansing High School principal Steve Dike, who praised the Kayettes for several activities they coordinated during the holidays.

¢ Board member Brian Bode thanked district staff for the effort they made to help others by collecting donations during the holidays.

¢ Board president Shelly Gowdy praised the members of the National Honor Society at LHS. She also thanked the district's maintenance staff for their work during the cold weather and superintendent Randal Bagby for his making a presentation to the Lansing Leavenworth Leadership class.

¢ Heard presentations highlighting three areas students should improve upon in order to continue reaching Annual Yearly Progress, a federal mandate of the No Child Left Behind law.

¢ Reviewed a report on the construction fund.

¢ Approved payment to McPherson Contractors for the district's construction projects. January payments totaled $858,321 for the elementary school construction and $94,839.30 for the auditorium and band room construction at the high school.

¢ Reviewed a construction phase report, which included updates on the auditorium and band room at the high school and the new elementary school on West Mary Street.

¢ Awarded the network cabling infrastructure contract at the new elementary school to Wachter Network Services, Lenexa. Three bids were submitted for the project, ranging from Wachter's base bid of $81,190 to $105,000.

¢ Approved a proposal to share costs with Lan-Del Water District to extend the water main at the new elementary school on West Mary Street. The district's portion of $35,643.50 includes inspection, testing and plan review fees.

¢ Approved an out-of-state travel request for LHS teacher Mary Alice Schroeger and LES teacher Vickie Kelly to attend a playground conference Feb. 8-10 in New Orleans. The board authorized $972 worth of travel costs to pay for the trip, which is also funded by a scholarship from conference organizers. Schroeger, who also is director of the Lansing Educational Foundation Fund, and Kelly will attend the conference to learn more about playground design and funding opportunities for the new elementary school on West Mary Street.

¢ Reviewed administrative reports from the building principals.

¢ Accepted a $26.75 donation from Andras and Andrasne Polyak for Kelly's kindergarten class at LES.

¢ Met in executive session for 20 minutes to discuss personnel issues, Bagby's evaluation and contract negotiations.

¢ Accepted the resignation of LIS fourth-grade teacher Lisa Dewane. In an interview with The Current, Dewane said she would be moving to Colorado after her contract with the district expires at the end of the 2006-'07 school year.

¢ Approved the substitute teacher list.

¢ Approved an application for an out-of-district student to attend Lansing schools.

As part of its consent agenda, the board:

¢ Approved minutes from the Dec. 11 board meeting.

¢ Approved bills for the month.

¢ Approved the clerk's financial, treasurer's, investment securities and miscellaneous reports.

¢ Approved the resignations of crossing guard Everlee Morgan and LMS dishwasher Cindy Williams.

¢ Approved a recommendation to hire crossing guard Lewis Mitchell.

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