Farmington schools calendar change approved

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington High School students react during a school assembly Jan. 12 at Scorpion Gym in Farmington. Students throughout the district will see a number of early-release days switched to delayed-start days during the upcoming school year.

FARMINGTON — The Farmington school board approved a change to the district’s calendar to implement a number of delayed-start school days for the upcoming school year.

Members of the Farmington Municipal School District Board of Education approved switching 18 early-release days to 15 delayed-start days for the 2016-2017 district calendar during today’s meeting.

A two-hour delay will take place at the start of the second and fourth Monday of the month when school is in session.

In the work session before the meeting, Superintendent Gene Schmidt outlined the need for additional professional development for teachers that will be implemented during the delayed start on Mondays. He stated that consistent training and collaboration between teachers on the 15 school days is more effective at improving instruction in the classroom than dedicating a select number of days solely to training.

Board President Kyle Rhodes, Vice President Mike Isaacson and Secretary Robyn Hoffman voted in favor of the calendar while board member Sherry Galloway voted against it. Deputy Secretary Bill Young did not attend the meeting.

After the meeting, Galloway said she voted no to represent the opinions of the parents who called her about the calendar change. The parents Galloway talked to supported additional training for teachers but did not support delaying the start of the school day.

“I think we did the parents a disservice,” Galloway said.

Hoffman said after the meeting that she voted for the calendar change to show support for teachers in the district.

“I think professional development is extremely important for providing quality education to our kids,” Hoffman said.

During the meeting, an amendment was added to the motion to approve the district calendar change.

The board will now review the district calendar during its Oct. 13 meeting and decide if it wants to maintain the calendar or cancel the remaining 12 delayed-start days.

All four board members present voted in favor of the amendment.

The amendment will give the board a chance to review how teachers and principals are utilizing the delayed-start days to improve instruction after three delayed-start days.

Hoffman said she hopes to receive a report from teachers that will provide board members an idea of how the extra professional development time is used to improve instruction in the classroom.

Board members also approved the district’s final 2016-2017 budget of about $75.3 million, a decrease of about $2.8 million from this year’s budget of about $78.1 million. A proposed budget was approved during the April 14 board meeting.

The budget decrease was due to a loss in state funding from a decline in enrollment and a desire to avoid using the district’s cash reserves to balance the budget for a fourth straight year.

Randy Bondow, district chief financial officer, said the district received an extra $587,000 in state funding to pay for the operations of San Juan College High School.

The early college high school set to open on Aug. 15 and will allow San Juan County students to earn two years of college credit and a high school diploma in four years.

Bondow said the application for the new high school was not formally approved by the New Mexico Public Education Department until mid-May, which delayed the funding to the district.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.