Friday, September 19, 2014

Mama on a Budget: Mixed Opinions on “Late Arrival Days”

On Wednesday of this week, parents of Fort Thomas experienced “Late Arrival Days” at the Fort Thomas schools for the first time ever.  The result was mixed.  Some parents expressed understanding and even liked having late arrival whereas others expressed frustration and confusion.  Fellow parents of preschoolers (who did not receive a notice of a late arrival day) were generally frustrated (and tardy) because they did not know that morning school traffic (which usually occurs one hour before preschool start time) would be occurring right at preschool start-time, thus delaying anyone’s travel.


    For those who are not aware, on August 5th, Gene Kirchner (Superintendent of the Fort Thomas Schools) sent a letter to all parents within the district advising parents of a schedule change; rather than have a once-per-month early dismissal day, schools would have a once-per-month late arrival day.  The point of early dismissal days was to allow teachers to meet after school for one hour, collaborate, and train in various topics. 

Says Kirchner in a follow-up email to FTM in regards to the letter, “We have incorporated the late arrival days in order to create additional time for our teachers to work collaboratively to conduct data analysis, evaluate program effectiveness, implement new initiatives, work on curriculum revision, etc. Finding common time after school has traditionally been the greatest obstacle in accomplishing these important tasks because so many of our teachers also coach sports, sponsor clubs, and/or have families of their own.”  Kirchner went on to say that morning meetings with the teaching staff allowed teachers to be fresher and “more productive” as opposed to after school, thus allowing for better collaboration. 

Scott Johnson, member of the Fort Thomas Board of Education, says of the change, “The fundamental objective is to promote faculty collaboration across the curriculum.  In effect, this allows cross-training of faculty to help them better grasp what is working, what is not working and how best to promote continued Personal Best from the high-end, how to cast our rigorous net deeper and wider for the mainstream, as well as how to execute smart remediation to target those who might be struggling in this or that area, getting them back on academic track or back on their personal best kindergarten to college trajectory.”

Of the mixed reviews and confusion this caused on some parents, Johnson goes on to say, ”To accommodate working parents, the District DID make provisions for normal time drop off / supervision of students for parents who must get to work on time”.  In fact, the original letter dated August 5 says in bold print, “Parents who wish to drop their children off at the normal time may do so” and goes on to assure parents that staff will be present to monitor their children.  Kirchner followed this up advising, “We are utilizing our instructional assistants to supervise any students who need to report at normal time on those days. We wanted to avoid inconveniencing working parents if possible.”

So, aside from the preschool parents (such as me) who had no idea about the schedule change and were unable to plan for the traffic patterns accordingly, it would appear all parents had ample notice of the change and sufficient accommodations for their original schedule if parents work start-times were inflexible.   Emily Anderson, stay-at-home parent with three children in the school system, liked the change- “My kids liked sleeping in as well. Since I'm a stay at home mom, it wasn't a big deal for us. I didn't have to find childcare. We just left an hour later than usual. I would much rather have a late arrival than an early dismissal."  Despite the notice and some of the positive comments, some still expressed frustration at the change.  Is it that it flies in the face of tradition?  Is it concern for leaving their children early just to sit and wait?  Is it traffic concerns?  Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page providing your thoughts on the schedule change.

12 comments:

  1. I agree-we had ample opportunity to plan for the day. I took advantage of the "no rush" morning to take my kiddo to breakfast. We both then started our day a bit more refreshed.

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  2. It just seems like the district is inconveniencing thousands of working families with kids in the Fort Thomas schools so that 100+ teachers can have coffee and conversation before school starts and still pick their kids up from school on time in the afternoon. Don't the teachers get enough time off and "training" days throughout the year as it is??? The rest of us working parents get 10-15 days off a year - that's it, so we really have to juggle all the days school is closed, snow days, etc. and now this on top of it just seems a little ridiculous. All of my coworkers who live in Anderson, Florence, Mason, Blue Ash, etc. think its ridiculous too.

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    1. Guess you didn't read the part that says parents who didn't get the same flexibility as others could still drop off at normal time...

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    2. you're remarks are kind of disrespectful of teachers...Have you ever been in charge of 20+ children? Any thing that helps our teachers - helps our children...Its only once a month -inconvenient, maybe - but not the end of the world. We made adjustments.

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    3. you always have the option of moving to Anderson, Florence, Mason or Blue Ash and putting your child on a bus at 6:30 AM to arrive at school at 8

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  3. I would say the early dismissal was already better but I am ok with late arrival. My only issue is, if I do not have a flexible job, this may of been a bigger issue but YES they did say you could bring your child early. My only concern was how many other children would be there and if my child would have someone to hang out with for an hour.
    thats all.

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  4. I agree with above...Why is the school district inconveniencing working parents again. Use some of the professional development days for this.

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    1. They couldn't use their "professional development" days because those are "secretly" just more days off. I know teachers who have told me this......sssshhhh!!!!

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    2. A Hardworking TeacherSeptember 23, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      First, I would love to to see you walk in the shoes of a teacher for just one week. Maybe then you would retract your absurd and unqualified judgement/comment from above.

      The difference in your job versus a teacher's, is more than likely when you get home you have time to spend with your own family without thinking or doing anything for work. With most jobs, work and home life are completely separate. (Most... I know there will always be the exception) For teachers, work is brought home on a regular basis. Included in the work brought home is as follows: data collection for those students behind in grade level (we have to track their progress on a weekly basis), and grading papers so that parents that are "inconvenienced" by teachers can see what there own students progress is in class so that we can then complete progress reports and reports cards so that again, you can see how your student is doing.

      We also have to reflect on our own progress as a teacher. This is done in the beginning and the end of the year so that we are doing the best we possibly can to teach your students.

      Weekly planning in itself can take a couple hours making sure that everything we teach can be connected to a common core standard, has a learning target that is student friendly, includes an engaging lesson to meet that specific target, and has some sort of formal assessment to see which student understood the lesson and which student needs more help or time to learn it. Again, most teacher lesson plan at home when others are spending time with their family because "planning time" is simply not enough time to complete these engaging lessons. Why can't we just use the same lessons year after year? Answer simply stated is that we don't have the exact same students every year. Lessons are catered towards those students in that year.

      On top of the normal planning, teachers have to also prepare to be formally observed by their principal and or assistant principal which requires a whole new lesson plan format than the regular weekly lesson plans that are created.

      I would not trade my job as a teacher for anything in the world because this job is rewarding and as a teacher because we work so hard in and outside of school, we are able to impact a child's life forever. Maybe next time, before you state you are inconvenienced by having to take off work or find other accommodations for your child so that your school can give your student's teacher an fraction of planning time they need, maybe you can take that time and spend it with your child and be thankful that you do get to be with your family when others may not get as much time with theirs. Reason being, they are busy being the best teacher they can be to those 20+ students they call their "own" because they care!

      I leave you with this to read and ponder.
      http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/06/living/teachers-want-to-tell-parents/?c=&page=0

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  5. What is this talk of early dismissal? Why is this late arrival compared to early dismissal? For at least the last decade, we've had neither. High school teachers have no common planning time during the school day. This late arrival allows for all teachers to work together to better the curriculum and evaluate data in order to plan for best practices. Again, the schools allowed for students to be dropped off at the normal time. It seems that surely someone at the preschool would have also had children in the school system and that word of mouth would have spread the news. I'm fairly certain all the schools had the info on their signs.

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  6. While we had ample notice and our morning worked out just fine, it did require more juggling for this working parent, not something we need to add to our busy schedules, although life is like that. What I am unable to figure out though is the "logic" that it had to be moved to the morning because of teachers having commitments to coach etc. If early dismissal was one hour and late start is one hour, what is the difference? Also, for the argument of the teachers being "fresher" in the morning: aren't we all in favor of their freshness being spent on our students?

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  7. I had ample opportunity to plan for this, but it did become yet another plan. The children were warned that if we did drop them off early, they would not be able to talk to their friends in the cafeteria as they normally are able to do. So, in order to avoid hours of un-directed quiet time for my elementary aged children, I paid for a babysitter. It was inconvenient. Hopefully, the school is able to glean useful information during this time, but I doubt we will ever see it. It just adds to the juggling act for working parents. I do feel bad for those who couldn't afford to pay for a babysitter or don't have flexible work schedules that allow them to accommodate these changes.

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