Kent district considers adding dozens of shorter school days

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by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 10:53 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 3 at 5:14 PM

KENT, Wash. -- Kent school district is the latest Western Washington district that is considering replacing dozens of full school days with partial days.

Wednesday night, the school board heard the results of a two year study by a commission formed by the district.  The commission recommends the board replace nine half-schools days that are currently on the calendar with 30 two hour late starts each year.

Administrators and teachers voiced strong support for the move.  The hours that students are not around would be used for “teacher collaboration”, time that teachers would use to jointly plan lessons and curriculum.

“Students learn when teachers collaborate,” Kent Accountability Chief Linda Del Guida told the school board.  “Quality in the class makes a difference by the teamwork of teachers,” she said.

Administrators say research, including their own results in Kent school, shows that teacher collaboration improves students grades.

Kent is following the trend of many Western Washington school districts.

In neighboring Auburn students start an hour late each Monday. In the Tahoma and Hiighline districts students are released 90 minutes early every Friday. Renton has a 90 minute late start on Fridays. Puyallup has a 3 hour early release for elementary kids every Wednesday.

During public comments many parents voiced concerns about the loss of 60 minutes of class time each year.

“Asking for 30 days late start? That’s an impact on our children’s learning,” said parent Jenny Simmons.

“You ought to consider the hours and days the kids get. I think the tail is wagging the dog,” said Kent taxpayer Larry Fritz.

The school  board could follow the commission’s recommendation to start school two hours late each Wednesday or it could add fewer than the recommended 30 half days.

Officials promised to make a decision early enough so that parents would have plenty of notice before next school year.

See Chris Ingalls' complete series, School's Out.

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