Charleston County teachers could see longer school year, officials propose four extra days for training
Charleston County teachers could work up to four more days next school year if the school board approves more training.
Where would the money go?
$4 million*Cost to pay 3,000 teachers' salaries for four additional days of training$700,000Cost of trainers and materials$4.7 million*Total cost*Officials expect that figure to be lower because some teachers will be required to attend only two days of training.
And the tab for those few days would come to nearly $5 million.
Proposed calendar for 2013-14 school year
Parents and teachers are invited to give their input on the proposed academic calendars in 2013-14. District officials have presented four options. All of the major holidays, such as Thanksgiving break, winter break and spring break, are the same. Here's a look at the big differences:Version AFirst day of school is Aug. 21. School year for teachers is 190 days. Students return from winter break on Jan. 7.Version BFirst day of school is Aug. 20. School year for teachers is 190 days. Students return from winter break on Jan. 7.Version CFirst day of school is Aug. 21. School year for teachers is 194 days. Students return from winter break on Jan. 6.Version DFirst day of school is Aug. 20. School year for teachers is 194 days. Students return from winter break on Jan. 7.To vote on the calendar, go to: www.ccsdschools.com/ProposedCalendar.php
District leaders want to add the days to teachers' contracts to allow time for training sessions focused on the Common Core Standards. Those are new requirements for what kindergarten through 12th-grade students must learn in reading and math.
“It requires much more (training) than what we've historically done, and for us to be ready, we need to have those additional days,” said Lisa Herring, the district's associate superintendent for academic and instructional support.
The district could spend as much as $4.7 million to pay teachers for their time and cover the training staff and materials. The district's total approved budget for this school year is $357.1 million.
Three of the extra days would be in August while the fourth would be in October, and teachers of core academic subjects, including English/language arts, math, science and social studies, would be required to attend each session.
Teachers of other subjects, such as art or physical education, would have to go to two days of training.
“We want to use our time and resources wisely,” Herring said.
The district's calendar for this year had one day of district-wide professional development and two days of school-based professional development.
Officials said they didn't want to take that time away from schools, and this would be a better approach to reaching all teachers.
“To effectively provide quality training in a uniform manner required additional days,” Herring said.
Charleston teachers are salaried employees who receive contracts to work a specific number of days, usually 190. All teachers would receive their regular daily pay for the additional days of training.
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.
Some of the district's teacher leaders said they didn't mind the additional days and would rather the training happen this way rather than after school or during their planning time.
“By (the end) of the day, you're not at your peak,” said Kent Riddle, chairman of the Charleston Teacher Alliance, a teacher advocacy group.
He said the main concern he had heard was whether teachers would be paid for their time at their regular rate. That doesn't always happen, and he said it was good the district had proposed to do so.
Sign of respect
Nancy Dabit, an English/language arts teacher at Moultrie Middle School and the district's Teacher of the Year, said she would attend this kind of training session whether she was compensated or not, but paying teachers for their time shows the district respects them.
Sign of respect
“We're coming in early, but we're valued enough to be paid for these days,” she said. “... Teachers need to be trained. We need to be comfortable about what the expectations are for students and what the goals are. I'm all for it.”
Whether the additional professional development days will be effective in teaching educators about the standards depends on the quality of instruction and how it's presented, Riddle said. One size fits all will not work, he said.
“We need to get down to grade levels, and it needs to be as differentiated as possible,” he said.
The school board will consider the request at its Monday meeting. School officials had asked the board last week to approve the extra days, but board members said they wanted more time to discuss the issue.
The board also is slated to make a decision on its academic calendar for the 2013-14 school year. That calendar will designate school holidays, professional development days and teacher work days.Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.