North Tama's school board and staff have been investigating a new, innovative calendar for the 2014-2015 school year, due to a legislation change regarding school calendars. We believe that this new plan will provide great opportunities for our students, provide time for more effective professional development for our staff, as well as provide several other benefits to our district.
The State of Iowa recently changed the law regarding the minimum requirements for a school year. In the past, schools had to meet for 180 days. The new legislation has redefined, however, what counts as a school day, requiring 6 hours of instructional time for a day to count. Based upon this legislation, any early outs or late starts in our current calendar would not count. The state also gave schools the option of counting hours, with a minimum of 1,080 in a school year.
Knowing that we have a need for more effective professional development and better opportunities for helping struggling and advanced students, we have created a calendar that allows us to meet these needs as well as meet the criteria of the updated law.
The new calendar increases the school day by 20 minutes, but includes one day every other week for enrichment and remediation, as well as opportunities for more effective professional development. The calendar will include 1,148 hours of instructional time, 68 more than the minimum required. We will, as a district, set a minimum number of hours, above the state requirement, in order to guarantee instructional time for our students, in case of weather related cancellations, late starts, or early dismissals.
The calendar committee, made up of administrators, teachers, parents and school board members has identified a number of positive things that North Tama will see with this new calendar, including:
-More learning opportunities for students
-Added enrichment activities
-More remediation and tutoring time
-Adequate time for professional development
In the past, our schedule has included 1,160 hours, but this year we have already lost 20 hours due to heat and fog, leaving us with 1,140 hours of instructional time. This total is likely to be less before we complete the 2013-14 school year due to bad weather. Over the last few years, we have lost a number of hours that we did not have to make up.
The State of Iowa's new requirements forced us to examine our current school calendar, and we believe that this has resulted in a proposed calendar that will be better for our students. We think it is important to "Make each day count, rather than just counting the days."