Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Harleton ISD tries out new schedule

By Bridget Ortigo
Feb. 25, 2017 at 4 a.m.

Harleton ISD is trying out a new schedule this school year that includes closing for both a winter break this week and a spring break in April, as well as having an early release every Friday.

"With the new bill coming out of the last legislative session that moved the school time requirements for districts from 180 days to 75,600 minutes, we wanted to get creative and see what we could come up with to best suit our district," Harleton ISD Superintendent Craig Coleman said.

The district also served last school year as a pilot school for the new teacher evaluation system called T-TESS.

"With that new system, teachers need time for professional development and time to work on their lesson plans," Coleman said. "Many teachers would often work on that during lunch or after hours."

Coleman said the district came up with this year's new schedule of beginning the school day at 7:40 a.m. and ending at 3:40 p.m. Monday through Thursday and going from 7:40 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. on Fridays as a response to teachers' request for more time to work on lesson plans and professional development.

"Teachers are able to get with other teachers and make sure lesson plans line up vertically and horizontally with other curriculum," Coleman said. "For example, an English teacher could get with an art teacher to make sure both of their lessons tie in together and meet certain needs in the required curriculum."

The district is also trying out a new winter break this week and has another planned week off for spring break April 10-14.

The school started its year on Aug. 22 and will end on May 25.

"We were able to extend the days by a few minutes, which allowed us to get in more minutes and reduce the number of days in our school year, allowing for both the spring and winter breaks," Coleman said. "There are advantages and disadvantages. The students will not be off at the same time as other schools' spring breaks but I think they do enjoy having both breaks."

Coleman said the district is currently planning its calendar and schedule for next school year.

"We sent out surveys to our staff and parents asking them for ideas and what they would like to see," he said. "About 75 percent of them seemed to like the current schedule we have with the early release on Friday and the two breaks in the second semester. Our parents are pretty understanding if we explain to them why we are wanting to do something."

Harleton ISD students finished up their first winter break on Friday and are set to be back in class on Monday.



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