Northwest NEWS

June 10, 2002

Front Page

District discusses collaborative planning time and pilot program

CARNATIONIn a recent meeting with Riverview School District's Superintendent Conrad Robertson, Director of Business Sue Tucker, School Board President Dan Pflugrath and Director of Curriculum Anthony Smith, two of the district's most difficult issues were addressed.
   The first issue was collaborative planning time and the district's upcoming pilot program that will be launched next school year.
   According to a memo dated May 8, 2002, collaborative planning time is to be used to collaborate with colleagues and/or with internal or external consultants. Each building in the district is to work with staff to plan meaningful activities aimed at improving education throughout the district. Such activities could include horizontal or vertical team meetings, program and activity planning, group consultations and training, curriculum alignment, articulation and assessment and specialist meetings.
   New federal legislation requires all states to test grades 3-10. According to the "Leave No Child Behind" Act, signed into law on January 8, 2002, the act requires sweeping reform of elementary and secondary education systems.
   "Many districts have already taken the kind of steps we are planning," said Robertson. "Bellevue, Snoqualmie and Issaquah have already implemented a version of this program. Northshore is the model we are looking at."
   During the 2001-2002 school year a committee was formed and based on their research, they have recommended a pilot program of no more than one year, which will be the 2002-2003 school year. The pilot program will include eight additional half days built into the school calendar taking place on the 2nd Wednesday of every month to allow for collaborative planning time for the district's teachers and staff. Four days will be early release and four will be late start. The committee chose to try both models to see which worked best for the entire district.
   A calendar review committee is also being formed and beginning in September the committee will meet monthly and assess the progress of the pilot program. They will present their recommendations to the board next February. The committee will have the task of looking at ways to reduce or combine existing half days in the district. Members of the committee will include the superintendent, director of curriculum, a board representative, building administrator, REA calendar representative, PSE representative, three teachers (one elementary, one middle school, and one high school) and two parents.
   If the committee cannot resolve the issue of combining and eliminating half days to accommodate for collaborative planning time within the school year's time frame they will probably not continue the collaborative efforts the following year.
   Smith says that no conference days will be affected next year nor will any days be added to the end of the school year. With the addition of the eight half days, the district will still be within its requirements for instructional hours and attendance days.
   Robertson believes this is a model worth trying and that teachers need more collaboration.
   "This pilot program gives us time to assess our needs and move forward educationally," said Robertson.
   Pflugrath agreed and feels that the district is falling behind.
   "This is an opportunity to be forward thinking," claimed Anthony Smith, "and we need to take it."
   The board is aware of the challenges and has discussed them at length but since it is a pilot program for one year only feels that the end result will benefit everyone.
   "Basically, we are looking for a better way," said Robertson.
   A copy of the new proposed school calendar will be sent home to parents or can be obtained through the district office. Anyone interested in participating as a parent representative can call Anthony Smith, director of curriculum, at (425) 788-4520.
  
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