Editor's Note: Superintendent of Schools Patricia Charles tells Middletown Patch she is looking into an after-care program for students that would not require a weekly enrollment. She will have more information about that possibility next week.
A story last week that explored a handful of changes taking place as Middletown children head back to school on Aug. 29 garnered a good deal of reader comments.
In a memo dated Aug. 6, Schools Superintendent Patricia Charles outlined a number of primary school initiatives.
Elementary school parents and educators were most vocal about the start of 18 two-hour-early Monday dismissal days to allow for professional development time for teachers. Also a concern were the school day beginning 15 minutes earlier, at 8:50 a.m.
Those 15 minutes for a working parent could mean the difference between arriving at work on time or trusting their grade schooler with a house key and time home alone unsupervised.
On 18 Mondays during the 2013-14 school year, the city's eight elementaries will be dismissing at 1:15 p.m. in order to allow teachers enough professional development hours for ongoing education workshops, classes or seminars required by law.In 2012, the state passed An Act Concerning Educational Reform, according to the Connecticut Education Association, which among other things compels school districts to offer an "intensive approach to improving teacher effectiveness, foster collective responsibility for student performance, be job-embedded, and take place mostly in small groups or on an individual basis."
What's great for teachers and school districts charged with improving student performance year over year leaves parents who work full-time during the day scrambling for after-school care — or those who don't fall into that category concerned about lost instructional time.
The Northern Middlesex YMCA Kids Korner after- and before-school care program is offered at all eight of the city's elementary schools. Melanie Carfora, School Age Child Care Director, responded to parents who have questions about the program:
"As programs licensed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, we cannot operate as drop-in child care programs just for half-days so children must register for all Mondays if they want guaranteed after-school care those days. The Y also offers financial assistance and accepts Care4Kids. If anyone has questions please feel free to contact me at the at (860) 343-6208."
Other ideas were floated among Middletown Patch readers, such as the district hiring paraprofessionals who could help students with homework on professional development days or parents who are home offering to help watch a friend or two in the neighborhood.
You can read all the comments on the original Middletown Patch story.
Meanwhile, at least one Lawrence Elementary School mother is looking for nearby parents who need help with child care on the Monday early release days.
Some of the comments we received on the issue are printed below. We'd love to know your thoughts, parents. Tell us in the comments below.
- Concerned Citizen wrote: "This schedule makes sense-the parents complained about teachers being out of classrooms for meetings and having subs and lost instruction time-the teachers need this time."
- Gail wrote: "I realize that the teachers need time for their activities, but why not do this in the summer months or after school. With all of the vacation time, holidays, 18 days seems like a lot of time away from their job? Why do this on-the-job? I'm not even thinking of the working parents; I'm thinking of those kids that need that time in school."
- Mommy T. actually looked in to the YMCA Kids Korner program, only to find out parents have to enroll their child in after care every Monday. "So how is that working with the families???? I completely agree the teachers need the training and I don't blame them but I really don't think that when the district made this decision they thought much about the working parent (married or single) at all."
- CP spoke out for working families: "I'm sure it was not an easy decision to make, but I don't think the administration really thought much about the working families and how it would impact them. Maybe the schools can hire a couple of the paras to stay late and do an educational program for those days...or maybe the PTA/O's can think of something to help out the families that support them?"
Parents, we want your feedback on these changes. Comment in the section below or pass along the link to those you know in the community.