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Menomonee Falls School District plans early release day for elementary, middle school

Dec. 4, 2012

Menomonee Falls - Student growth is at the forefront of the educational overhaul taking place across the state and in order to meet new achievement standards expected for every student the Menomonee Falls School District is looking to implement a new calendar to enhance learning opportunities.

The most significant change to the 2013-2014 school calendar is the implementation of an early release day every Wednesday at the elementary schools and North Middle School. This early release day would allow time for teachers in the district to meet every Wednesday afternoon to review student progress, adjust plans for curriculum and ensure each child is making appropriate progress, according to district documents. Menomonee Falls High School already has an early release time every Wednesday.

The school day would also be slightly adjusted Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to make up for the loss of time on Wednesdays.

Elementary school would end at 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Every other day school would go from 8:50 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. North Middle School will let out at 1:20 p.m., with school running from 7:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. the rest of the week.

Also different is the week of spring break, which the new calendar has scheduled for the week before Easter - April 14-21 - instead of after Easter due to the lateness of the holiday. This was proposed because student testing is the first week of May and if spring break is scheduled the week after Easter, students will face testing immediately after returning to school.

The 2013-2014 calendar discussed at the School Board meeting last week will not be voted on until mid-January. A School Board round table discussion was held Wednesday night where parents could openly discuss the calendar with board members.

Changes to the expectations of student performance across the state, as well as nationally, prompted administrators to propose a new calendar.

"The part that is most unprecedented and what we're seeing right now is every unit of instruction that we teach, every single one in the core academic areas, is going through a full curricular shift that has to be in place by 2014," Superintendent Patricia Greco said.

Adjusting the calendar is one way the district is working to meet these new achievement standards. These changes mean every student is expected to improve academically.

It does not matter where a student is currently performing - whether they are struggling or gifted - each student is expected to demonstrate growth. If a student is performing at a higher level, that student may still be underachieving, Greco said.

"Regardless of where the child is currently performing we have to have that level of depth of conversation on student performance, how they work with peers, and everything that affects student performance," she said.

Greco said the School Board and administration are aware that an early release day once a week will have an impact on families and is working on ways to alleviate concerns. They are currently working with Kids Inc., the district's on-site child care provider scheduled through Community Education and Recreation, to offer families an option to have child care just one day per week if they do not need it all five days.

"Obviously it's a cost to the families, but there is care on-site," Greco said.

North Middle School would offer a supervised, quiet study period for students who cannot get picked up at the early release time.

"We recognize this is the challenge in building this into family calendars," Greco said. "That won't be easy, and we realize that, but the benefits are significant enough that it's worth the recommendation to School Board members."

The first day of school is scheduled for Sept. 3 and the last day of school would fall on June 12.

The proposed calendar can be viewed at sdmf.k12.wi.us.

AT A GLANCE

Proposed school start and end times:

K4: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8:50 to 11:30 a.m.; 12:50 to 3:30 p.m.; Wednesdays from 8:50 to 10:50 a.m.; 12:15 to 2:15 p.m.)

Elementary School: 8:50 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.; Wednesdays from 8:50 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

North Middle School: 7:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Wednesdays from 7:15 a.m. to 1:20 p.m.

High School: 7:50 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.; Wednesdays from 7:50 a.m. to 1:55 p.m.

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