District changes calendar to early-release days

An online survey showed 81 percent of votes were cast in favor of the early-release schools days

Joshua Kellogg
  • The first early-release school day is scheduled for Sept. 12.
  • Teachers and principals will use time on early-release days for professional development.

FARMINGTON — The Farmington school district will change its 14 delayed-start school days to early-release days after an overwhelming number of people voted in support of the latter in a district online survey.

Ashley Laird and her husband Rick Laird pick up their daughters Rebecca Laird, left, and Maria Laird Wednesdayat Ladera Del Norte Elementary School in Farmington.

The Farmington Municipal School District made the announcement in a statement posted to the district’s website this afternoon and written by district Superintendent Gene Schmidt.

Figures released by the district show 81 percent of the 4,884 votes cast were in favor of changing the 14 scheduled delayed-start school days to early-release days for the current school year.

On the early-release days, elementary and high school students are released at 1 p.m., and middle school students are dismissed at 1:30 p.m.

District officials chose to conduct the survey after receiving a continuous stream of phone calls and having conversations with parents about the difficulty involved in setting up child care on the delayed-start school days. The survey was opened on Tuesday afternoon and closed at noon today.

“The weight of the votes tells us that this is what the town is used to and prefers,” Schmidt said. “I think at the end of the day, the right decision was made.”

Today’s decision was one in a series of changes made to the district calendar this year.

The calendar approved by the district’s Board of Education on March 10 included 18 early-release school days on Mondays. On June 9, the board members approved changing the 18 early-release days to 15 delayed-start days.

The first early-release school day is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12. The first delayed-start school day was scheduled for Aug. 22 but it was canceled by the district.

Schmidt said he learned the district needs to reach out to parents and families earlier in the decision-making process. Engaging families is a pillar of the district’s strategic plan scheduled to be approved at Thursday’s board meeting.

Schmidt also thanked parents for their patience and understanding as the district made changes to the calendar, and he apologized to families who already have made arrangements for child care to handle the delayed-start school days.

“All I can do is apologize for the inconvenience and say, 'I learned a lot about how to deal with the community the last couple of weeks and hope to do better in the future,'” Schmidt said.

Schmidt is eager to move forward and focus on the opportunity teachers and principals have for professional development to improve the quality of instruction in the classroom.

“Let’s get on with the work of taking advantage of the time that parents and families have given us to really hone in on the skills that could lead to improved student achievement," Schmidt said.

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