There are only so many hours in a day - or a week or a month - in which teachers can teach their students, and that time is going to get shorter starting next school year after a state-mandated 36-hour teacher training requirement goes into effect.
Estherville Lincoln Central administrators talked about how they plan on dealing with the new requirement at Monday's board meeting.
According to ELC superintendent Tara Paul, the 36 hours of collaborative time is over and above the five days the district has currently plus two full days of training required by the teacher quality committee focusing on the Iowa Core and technology. Paul said there is currently no set requirement by the state for teacher professional development. Teachers now have an early out at 12:10 p.m. one day a month for professional development.
A big difference, though, is that the new 36-hour requirement must focus on collaborative time - something that currently takes up only a portion of professional development time.
The district is looking at going with weekly early outs to accommodate the new requirement - something that shouldn't hurt high-school students, but that could put a severe crimp in the schedules of the parents of elementary parents.
Elementary principal Justin Bouse said he had talked with his learning team about what could be done with professional development, and that 38 out of 46 teachers responded favorably regarding professional development this year, something he said would make the move to weekly professional development easier. With the focus this year on literacy and reading strategies, Bouse said one of the teachers' concerns was they only had professional development once a month. A staff concern they had was as parents and not teachers and how daycare would be handled. Another staff concern, said Bouse, was where children of poverty would go for two hours every Wednesday.
Middle-school principal Deb Lenertz noted that younger kids need daycare but some of the older ones don't.
High-school principal Frank Christenson said secondary teachers echoed one of the primary teachers' concerns - as parents.
Paul noted a Plan B was to have in-service twice a month. And, while staff had a lot of theory in professional development, she said now it was time to put that theory into action. "In my mind, now it's time to get to work in our buildings," Paul said.
"We hear it's good for the teachers but I'm not hearing where it's very good for the students," said board member Duane Schnell. "They're losing instructional time."
Bouse noted though that professional development would help in teacher consistency - alleviating a major parental concern.
Paul said she wanted to have a later board work session to deal with the issue. Another possibility she mentioned to make up for lost instructional time was extending the school day the other four days.