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District might eliminate delayed-start days

The results of an online survey could prompt the Farmington superintendent to change the district calendar

Joshua Kellogg
jkellogg@daily-times.com
  • The 15 delayed-starts school days could change to early-release days.
  • Superintendent Gene Schmidt will make decision on Friday afternoon to possibly change the calendar.

FARMINGTON — The pending results of an online survey might prompt the Farmington school district to change its delayed-start school days for the current school year to early-release days.

Samantha Leppert picks up her daughter Katlynn Bentley on Wednesda at Ladera Del Norte Elementary School in Farmington. Leppert says both the delayed-start and early-release options for some school days in the district are a strain for working parents.

A one-question survey was posted to the Farmington Municipal School District website Tuesday afternoon. It asks parents to vote on whether they prefer a two-hour delayed-start on 14 school days for the 2016-2017 school year or an early release with elementary and high school students released at 1 p.m. and middle school students at 1:30 p.m.

Calls from and conversations with parents about the possible hardship the delayed-start school days might create led the district to conduct the survey, according to Superintendent Gene Schmidt.

After the poll closes at noon on Friday, Schmidt will decide that afternoon if the district will change the calendar to replace the delayed-start school days with early-release days.

According to figures supplied by Schmidt this morning,  2,391 votes had been cast in favor of early release while 487 supported delayed-start school days.

Schmidt said he felt regret about not engaging parents more about the decision to implement the delayed-start school days. He added parents understood the need for the district to set aside time for professional development for teachers but many of them asked if it could be shifted to the afternoon.

Students wait to be picked up Wednesday at Ladera Del Norte Elementary School in Farmington.

“As I learn to understand our community, I see the need to engage parents in conversations that are meaningful,” Schmidt said.

A number of changes have been made to the district’s 2016-2017 school year calendar in recent months.

The original calendar approved by the district’s Board of Education included 18 early-release days scheduled on Wednesdays.

During a March 10 meeting, board members approved moving the early-release days to Mondays. The change from 18 early-release days to 15 delayed-start days was approved by the board on June 9.

Before the start of the school year, parents of Farmington students said the delayed starts would have a sizable impact on their jobs as they struggled to find child care.

The first delayed-start school day on Aug. 22 was canceled to give parents more time to find child care. The first delayed-start school day now is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Board Secretary Robyn Hoffman said she and the board were a little surprised by the reaction from parents who voiced concerns.

Holly Marriott talks to her granddaugther Emma Marriott Wednesday while picking her up from Ladera Del Norte Elementary School in Farmington.

“I don’t think any of us expected this kind of response,” Hoffman said.

She said the time was set aside for teachers and principals to train and work together to improve instruction in the classroom.

“The work is very important. It gives the teachers time to collaborate and strategize,” Hoffman said.

The time was incorporated into the calendar because the district does not have the money to pay teachers for extra training time, Hoffman said.

A number of parents picking up their children at Ladera Del Norte Elementary School today  shared their opinions on the possible calendar change.

Rick Laird said he preferred the early-release school days over the delayed-start days.

“My wife and I work different schedules, but some days, she works days like I do,” Laird said. “There is always a potential to have a conflict.”

Kelsey Henighan voted for the delayed-start school days on the online survey. She said it was easier for her to get her child to school later instead of picking her up earlier.

While picking up her daughter, Samantha Leppert said both options are going to place stress on full-time working parents.

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