McCOOK, Nebraska -- The McCook School Board of Education approved early dismissals every week next year, but want to make sure the time is well spent.
The board approved the 2012-13 school calendar at its regular meeting Monday night, that includes a 2 p.m. dismissal every Wednesday for teacher in-service time. This would occur from Sept. 2 to April 24 and apply to all the schools in the McCook district. Currently, 2 p.m. dismissals occur every other Wednesday.
Superintendent Grant Norgaard told the board that teachers would spend the time with curriculum development and re-alignment, identify essential learnings, assessments and technology changes.
"I've given them a lot of work," Norgaard admitted about teachers using the Professional Learning Communities mode of teaching, where teachers are in communication with each other about student performance. Teachers won't just be grading papers, he reiterated.
The early dismissals will not affect the number of hours required by state law. McCook Schools student now are still in the top 10 percent across the state, Norgaard said, and over the number of hours required.
With the 2012-13 calendar, students will have 20 less hours than this year and teachers, 20 more hours.
Board members discussed the change and were generally in favor of it, although Larry Shields asked that in the future, a report of some kind be given to the board on how the benefits on the early dismissals.
In their discussion, board members Shane Smith and Teresa Thomas stated how a more uniform schedule will help parents schedule child care and coordinate picking up the younger children.
Board member and secretary Diane Lyons commented that she realizes this will be appreciated by the staff and as a child care provider, she will appreciate the set schedule.
Board President Tom Bredvick clarified that because of the weekly early dismissals next year, there will be three instances where early dismissals will occur twice in one week, during Christmas break Dec. 19 and at the end of quarter.
The board unanimously approved the calendar with the early dismissals.