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Falls weighs early release

All students would be out one hour earlier on Wednesdays

Jan. 29, 2013

Menomonee Falls - The Menomonee Falls School District is in the process of structuring its 2013-14 school year calendar to allow for weekly early release days throughout the year.

The School Board on Monday heard a presentation from Superintendent Patricia Greco on the calendar, which proposes that all students be released approximately 1 hour early each Wednesday.

That hour would be used by staff to have weekly conversations around student growth and performance, including analyzing student data, determining progress and planning for intervention and acceleration, Greco said, based on a shift at the state level in performance benchmarks and measurement.

Next month the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will issue an individual report card for each student, showing how they compare to international benchmark standards, Greco said.

"The state metrics are set that every child has to demonstrate growth," Greco said, even higher performing students.

Although it would be feasible at the elementary level to have early release days on Fridays, as opposed to Wednesdays, after-school events at the middle and high school levels would not allow for that option, Greco said.

"We recognize that it's not convenient for families, necessarily," Greco said. "We're trying to ease that to the greatest extent possible with Kids INC opening up the ability to actually use Wednesdays only."

The district will be working with after-school care providers to ensure an effective transition, Greco added.

The proposed 2013-14 calendar also includes an additional four working days for teachers, Greco said, and fewer half days and days off in between for students, as they have been shifted into the early release format.

Because Easter falls late in 2014, the 2013-14 school year calendar proposes having spring break in mid-April, separate from the Easter holiday.

With regard to Easter break, "I believe it's our intention that we'll be able to let parents know at least a year in advance, and possibly two or three years, when those days are, so that they can properly plan vacations," School Board President Ron Bertieri said.

Provided state law does not change the requirement that the school year begin on or after Sept. 1, Greco said she does not anticipate the calendar recommendations would shift much in future years, which could allow the district to set calendar dates as much as three years in advance.

The district has drafted a questions and answers document to address concerns expressed in parent responses to a survey on the proposed calendar. The board will discuss the proposal further at its Feb. 11 meeting, to allow for additional community feedback, with action likely to be taken on Feb. 25.

AT A GLANCE

The proposed early release times for each grade level are:

1:55 p.m.

at the high school level

1:20 p.m.

at the middle school level

2:30 p.m.

at the elementary school level

10:50 a.m.

for morning K4 classes

2:15 p.m.

for afternoon K4 classes

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