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School officials say more study and direction is needed on options for new schedule changes

District officials have identified two methods for giving Bainbridge K-6th grade teachers additional planning time in the school week.

Elementary schools may either increase teaching time for specialty courses like art, library, music and physical education, or create a whole new curriculum for students.

But in a recent school board meeting on the topic, one thing was made clear: The district cannot conduct a full analysis on how the time change will affect teachers and students until the board decides which option the district should invest the resources to fully study.

“Quite honestly, building these schedules is very hard,” said Associate Superintendent Julie Goldsmith.

“I’m just looking at the elementary principals, and we spent hours and hours building schedules. Quite honestly, to get down to the T of how this would work, we really want to wait to invest that much time until we know which way we need to go,” she said.

Equal planning time

The Bainbridge Island School District and Bainbridge Island Education Association decided earlier this year to grant teachers in grades K-6 with equal planning time as teachers in grades 7-12.

Although the overall instructional time for elementary students will remain the same, how time is allocated will be adjusted, school officials said.

The time shift is planned to go into effect at the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

Despite the start date, David Layton of the teachers’ union told the board that the committee tasked to study the impacts would likely need a full year to work out the details for implementing the new time schedules.

“No matter which direction you give us, we’re going to need a year to get done,” Layton said. “To work out every minute … it will not be ready by September of next year.”

Currently, teachers at Ordway, Captain Johnston Blakely and Captain Charles Wilkes elementaries and at Commodore Options School are allotted 30 minutes of planning time on Mondays and 40 minutes Tuesday through Friday.

At Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School, instructors are given 35 minutes on Monday and 45 minutes Tuesday through Friday.

With this planning time, K-4th grade specialty courses are provided on a 12-day rotation.

Every 12 days, physical education is taught four days, art is offered three days, music is provided three days and library is given two days.

Teachers at Woodward Middle School, Bainbridge High School and Eagle Harbor High School, on the other hand, are given 40 minutes of planning time on Monday and 50 minutes Tuesday through Friday.

With the time shift at elementary schools, all teachers in grades K-12 will have an average 50 minutes of planning time.

Shift will cause impacts

Depending on which option the board chooses, however, the shift may decrease the current instructional time for general education, such as literacy, math, social studies and science.

In the first option, schools would increase library, art, music and PE time by 10 minutes.

This would provide more specialty curriculum for students, and maintain the number of transitions between subjects for students.

It would also, though, create scheduling challenges, officials said.

There would be less passing time between classes and less non-student time for library operations.

It would eliminate morning and afternoon recess breaks for specialists while possibly transferring more recess time to general education teachers.

Likewise the change would decrease instructional time by 50 minutes per week for general education subjects like English/language arts, math and science.

The cost of Option One would be approximately $152,000 in increased current contracts.

In the second option, a new curriculum would be added to the daily schedule.

This would maintain the current recess schedule for the whole staff, as well as the current amount of instruction time for art, library, music and PE.

It could also, officials said, provide added support to the current core content or add a new specialty area.

With a new curriculum, however, would come more transitions between subjects and, again, possibly less instructional time for core subjects.

Also, the cost of hiring additional staff with salary contracts and benefits would be approximately $227,000.

More study needed

The biggest challenge of a new curriculum is an obvious one. It will be difficult to roll out by the start of the next school year.

Everything comes down to feasibility, Layton said, and it may require the board to be comfortable pulling the plug on an impact and implementation study later on down the road if it shows the selected option is unfeasible.

“The association is really comfortable with saying, we need a year to plan,” Layton said.

“The kids are going to get a great program with either one. It’s just the way it rolls out … It’s going to be quite different for the district to develop it.”

Developing it, Layton explained, will require the district to develop new curriculum, possibly go through a hiring process and adjust the needs of core or specialty curriculum.

“All of that becomes very complicated,” Layton said. “We just need you (the board) to let us know where we’re going.”

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