Charleston County school leaders cut training days for teachers, change 2013-14 academic calendar
Charleston County school leaders’ decision to cut some extra training for teachers in 2013-14 means changes to days off for teachers and students.
2013-14 calendar changes
Following is a breakdown of how Charleston County School District’s calendar will change in 2013-14.
For parents and students: The first day of school, Aug. 21, remains unchanged. Students will take a day off Dec. 20 instead of Oct. 25, which will give them an earlier start to winter break.
For teachers of core content areas: They must report to work Aug. 12, and they will have three days of training on Common Core from Aug. 13-15. The district will host training sessions for all teachers on Aug. 16.
For teachers of non-core content areas: They must report to work Aug. 15, and they will attend the district-wide training on Aug. 16.
For teachers in the four Renaissance Project schools of Burns Elementary, North Charleston Elementary, Memminger Elementary and Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts: Their start date is unchanged as July 29. Those who don’t teach core academic classes will be off Aug. 12-14 while their colleagues attend the Common Core training, and the non-core teachers will return Aug. 15.
The first day for students in Berkeley, Dorchester 2 and Dorchester 4 is Aug. 19.
Source: Charleston County School District
The school board had signed off in February on the district’s proposal to spend about $3.4 million to give teachers up to four paid days of professional development on the new Common Core State Standards. Those standards are the new requirements for what kindergartners through 12th-gradersmust learn in reading and math.
During budget discussions last month, the district suggested cutting back on those training days to save $1.7 million to go to other key programs, and the board agreed to that recommendation. The elimination of some training days meant changes to the 2013-14 academic calendar for both teachers and students.
The change also affects the amount of preparation teachers will receive on the new standards. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core Standards, and those states, including South Carolina, will use them fully in 2014-15. School districts nationwide will use the new standards to teach lessons starting this fall, and new tests for those standards will be implemented in 2014-15.
In Charleston, the reduction in training dollars means only core content area teachers — those teaching math, science, English/language arts or social studies — will attend three extra training days instead of four. Non-core subject content area teachers will receive information on the Common Core standards, but it will be provided throughout the school year on scheduled work days. Before the cut, the district planned for non-core content area teachers to go to two days of training.
Lisa Herring, the district’s chief academic officer, said in a statement that the district is committed to ensuring that teachers have the skills and knowledge needed to produce successful students.
“We are certain that through the professional development that we have planned, we will be able to develop our teachers in a very deliberate and focused manner,” she said.
Kent Riddle, who leads the Charleston Teacher Alliance teacher advocacy group, said he hadn’t heard from teachers who were concerned about this issue. He didn’t know why the district picked the number of training days it had initially, but if the district were putting some of that money toward other important initiatives, such as expanding pre-kindergarten classes, that would make sense, he said.
The state Department of Education hasn’t mandated that districts give teachers training on the new standards, so it’s up to districts to decide the type and amount of training its teachers need, said Fritz Mason, a spokesman for the department. The department offers at least two sessions of training per week until the beginning of the school year, and it can provide professional development to teachers directly, Mason said.
Both Berkeley and Dorchester 2 also have been training teachers on implementing the new Common Core State Standards. Both districts are training key leaders who have gone back to their schools to train teachers. Some training sessions have happened this summer, and that will continue during the upcoming school year on workdays or early release days.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or (843) 937-5546.