MCHS to switch to early release

Students will have study hall while teachers collaborate

— Moffat County High School students no longer will be able to sleep in on Thursday mornings.

Principal Thom Schnellinger made a report to the Moffat County School Board on Thursday that included reasons for the switch and possible advantages of letting students out early instead of allowing them to come in later on days when teachers get together for collaboration.

"I think there is a good case for developing a consistent morning routine," he said. "It will work well for the school and for the families."

On Thursdays, classes are shortened and the equivalent of one class period is dedicated to teacher collaboration.

The time is important, he said, because teachers need to examine their practices, map curriculum and engage in dialogue about what is working and what isn't.

Last year, however, the collaboration took place in the morning. Students weren't required to be in class until 9 a.m.

However, many students couldn't adhere to the late start schedule.

Schnellinger noted a significant increase in the number of tardy arrivals occurring on late start days.

On one Thursday, 90 students showed up late, which is 14 percent of the student body. On an average day, only one to three percent of students were tardy.

"I think, at home, adults in the family leave for work and there isn't that supervision," Schnellinger said. "Since they already have to come in late, some just lose motivation."

The decision to make the switch involved an informal online poll in which 68 percent of those who answered preferred the early dismissal. Twenty-four percent wanted to stay with the late start.

Schnellinger said the new schedule, which lets students out at 2:50 p.m. instead of 3:40 p.m., will provide more opportunities for catching up on work.

"We will have tutors available," he said. "There will be a math tutor and a general study hall run by paraprofessionals. Also, the library and computer lab will still be open."

Board member Trish Snyder said her two daughters were actually looking forward to the change.

"I know my girls are excited because they will have that time to finish their homework before they go to practice," Snyder said. "That way, they won't have to do it after they get home when they're tired."

Schnellinger said he spoke with coaches about setting up study groups specifically for ineligible athletes to catch up on their work, something that was difficult with the late start because so many students chose to sleep in.

He said it's important to find the balance between the importance of collaboration time and meeting the needs of the students.

The first early release will be Sept. 10.

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