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FARMINGTON — The early-release days for Farmington students will remain after the Board of Education voted to keep the remaining 12 days on the district’s calendar.

The board members for the Farmington Municipal School District approved leaving the early-release days intact after hearing a report from school principals during their board meeting this evening.

District Superintendent Gene Schmidt gave the recommendation to the five board members, who unanimously vote in favor of keeping the current 2015-2016 school year calendar.

The addition of 15 early-release days to the school year has evolved over the course of this calendar year.

Initially, 18 early-release days on Mondays were approved by the Board of Education in March. During a June board meeting, members approved changing the calendar to 15 delayed-start days.

The district posted an online survey on its website to vote on changing the delayed-start days back to early-release days after parents and community members voiced concerns about the difficulty of providing child care for their students.

About 81 percent of the 4,884 votes cast in the survey were in favor of the early-release days.  Schmidt announced the change to early-release days on Sept. 2 before the first day took place on Sept. 12.

As part of Schmidt’s presentation, he shared several letters from principals with the board members that detailed the professional development work being conducted. Schmidt shared a figure from a survey that stated approximately 81 percent of teachers valued the training and professional development during the early-release time. The survey was conducted following the first early-release day.

“The time is valuable, in my opinion, and well spent,” Schmidt said.

The principals at Farmington and Piedra Vista high schools spoke about the importance of the time for training.

FHS Assistant Vice Principal Kristi Burns introduced a video she produced of teachers speaking about how they use the training.

“It helps us to capture what teachers are saying, what they are gaining from that time,” Burns said. “Sometimes, teachers need to hear it from their colleagues.”

The early-release time is crucial for teachers to collaborate on their teaching strategies in their professional learning communities, Pierda Vista Principal Dave Golden said.

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

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