Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

August 6, 2012

KPS adjusts start time for training

TAHLEQUAH — Following a  special Keys Public Schools Board of Education meeting Friday, Superintendent Billie Jordan  found herself answering questions by a concerned parent upset by the change of school hours.

The meeting was called to finalize contracts for faculty and staff for the upcoming academic year.

Jordan said to effectively implement the state’s new Common Core State Standards, the district adjusted the school day to allow teachers time to train each Friday morning.

Classes will start at 8 a.m. every day except Friday, when school will start at 9 a.m., with buses running one hour late on that day. The student release time will be 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, while the school’s building will also be opened every morning at 7:30.

“School will open at the same time on Friday,” said Jordan.

Jordan noted that a districtwide “all call” went out July 26 to notify parents of the hour changes, and then  July 27 to remind parents about physicals for athletics, as well as provide a second notification of the hour changes.

“We gave the all call, and this is the first time we had anyone who it was an issue for that I’ve dealt with,” said Jordan. “We’re going to do everything we can to accommodate parents, but we’re going to make sure the teachers get the training they need to be ready to transition to the Common Core Standards next year with everyone else.”

Mary Ann Anderson, Park Hill mother of three, commutes to a job in Fort Smith, Ark., every day of the week, and said she didn’t receive the message, and was alerted to the changes while attending a birthday party last weekend.

“Why can’t they do it Friday evening? There are a lot of parents who work. In fact, I work in Fort Smith, Ark.,” she said. “I have to be at work in Fort Smith at 8 every morning. So, if my kids can’t be at school until 9 in the morning, that puts me behind an hour and a half every Friday morning. I have to leave every afternoon at 3, and I’m scheduled to work until 4:30, and I have to leave at 3. So I’m losing three hours on Friday for this. There will be a lot of parents who are going to miss work because of this.”

Anderson asked Jordan why the change of hours was not an agenda item for the board’s consideration. Jordan said the change of time did not require board approval, and authorization comes from the State Department of Education.

“The state requires we attend 1,080 hours a year, and it doesn’t define when those hours happen,” said Jordan. “Putnam City has been doing this for awhile, and it’s a large district. So, I know it’s becoming more commonplace with all the new standards. The kids are still getting the same amount of instruction time as they did last year, which exceeds those 1,080 hours. And we’re still opening the doors at the same time as we did last year.”

Action taken in the special board meeting included accepting the resignations of elementary teacher Barbie Casey, special education teacher Allison Dillard, high school cook Mary Willige and custodian Mike Welch.

The board approved the hire of retired English teacher David Powers as library aide, Ashley Rouse as a high school English teacher, and Amy Dark as an elementary teacher.

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The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
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