Janesville70°

Milton School Board tables late-start proposal

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
December 13, 2011
— The Milton School Board on Monday tabled a decision on once-a-month late-start days after two residents voiced concerns that the plan could create difficulties for families with working parents.

The board asked district administrators to look deeper into how late starts would affect the district, students and parents who work.


Superintendent Mike Garrow has said district administrators want to use late-start days to schedule more routine curriculum planning time for teachers and staff. He said it would allow staff to plan improvements in instruction and student services early in the day and early in the week, when studies show the plans are most likely to take root.


Now, the district has five early release days for staff in-services. Under the proposal, most of those would be eliminated, and staff would instead meet the first two hours of the school day on one Monday each month.


On those days, bus routes would be delayed, and students would start their school day about 10 a.m.


For some working parents it would mean finding a way to keep an eye on younger students while they wait for a late start. That's a problem for Janesville Township resident Joy Myers.


Myers has a 9-year-old and a 10-year-old in Milton schools, but her job as a business analyst requires her to be at work by 8 a.m.


Her husband's employer doesn't offer partial days off. He'd have to take off a full day of work just to watch their children for a few hours on late-start days, or the couple would have to pay for day care.


"It (late starts) would hurt a lot," Myers said.


Evansville School District has late-start days a few days a month, but that district offers before-school activities for younger students.


Garrow said a local day care provider is in touch with the district about options for before-school care, but the district hasn't decided if it will offer supervised activities on late-start days.


Board member Betsy Lubke wanted to delay a decision until the district learns how many parents could need day care for late-start days, and what the costs could be.


"We need to flesh out some more of that to give them some more options," she said.


Garrow has suggested a shift to late-start days would save on substitute teachers now used for teachers with in-services that fall in the middle of regular school days. Garrow gave the board no estimates about how much money that could save.


Lisa Brown of Milton, who works in public affairs and has an 11-year-old in the Milton district, asked the district to provide estimates of savings through late-start days and to examine how the change could affect students.


For instance, Brown wondered how the change would affect students enrolled in the district's breakfast program.


Board President Rob Roy suggested the board set the district's 2011-12 calendar Monday but hold off on deciding on late-start days until the board looks into those issues.


The change would fit Department of Public Instruction guidelines and wouldn't affect class length for other school days during the week.


The board has sent the issue to its curriculum committee for upcoming discussions.


Garrow urged the board to decide on the issue soon to give parents time to adjust to the potential change.



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