Playtime: Have your say on school district’s ‘non-student’ days

Jen Marx

The calendar shows that there are nine weeks between Jan. 29 and March 30. Yet, under the Edmonds School District calendar, there are just five full weeks of school that are uninterrupted by holidays and “non-student” days. Last week had two half-days for those in elementary school and no school on Friday for all grades. Considering the responses I hear to the repeated change in the weekly school schedule, I’m not surprised that the Edmonds School District posted a survey inviting all district families to give their input about “non-student” time, which is the “full or half days off from regularly-scheduled time so staff can focus on improving their instructional practices.” You can find the survey, which will be posted through April 13, by clicking HERE.

This link takes you to a page explaining the survey and offering options to fill it out in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Arabic and Korean. The district says it is “exploring different ways to package how this time is provided” saying that a committee of “district staff, students, and community members” are exploring the district’s options. The district goes on to say your feedback is “crucial” as it gathers “data and information” (I Googled it, data and information are actually two different things) and that the survey “is not intended nor will serve as a vote.

When I saw this survey shared by a friend very involved in the elementary school that both our families attend, I anxiously clicked, ready to choose all “do not likes” and “not at all helpfuls” before settling back down to the fact that this is a real issue affecting teachers who need the time, and families who face finding additional care and transportation, or changes in work schedules, and the financial hardship each entail. Currently, the schedule is a small inconvenience for us — the change in routine is much harder on one of my kids than the other, but my current schedule allows for it. For our first decade of parenting though, we worked staggered shifts and both the increase in days off and weekly or bimonthly time off would have affected us much more significantly in time, sleep or money.

The survey asks “Do you prefer larger blocks of time less frequently (current model), or shorter blocks of time more frequently?” As a different model, this district shows examples of “late start” or “early release” days once a week (an hour less that day) or every other week (90 minutes less that day). They ask you to vote on whether you’d prefer a late start or early release and also if you’d prefer this once a week or once every other week. They finish the survey by asking “What is your level of support for the district implementing the concept of an early release or late start?”

What I’ve learned at this point in my “had kids in public school” career, is that parents can affect real change at the school and district level. The year that they had kindergarteners going two to three full days a week and calling it part-time only lasted a year. Recently, there was a proposed change at the middle school my oldest son is headed to, and after letters and calls, everyone involved was able to leave their final meeting with what they needed. On a larger scale — and an example that is significant to me — is the state’s “Dyslexia” Bill, SB 6162, that was just signed into law. It defines dyslexia “as a specific learning disability and requiring early screening for dyslexia.” Our own “Certified Dyslexia Advocate” traveled to Olympia to support this bill as did many families who wrote letters, called in and testified.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ”just eat the mac n cheese”


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