Fairfax County Schools poised to scrap half-day Mondays

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WUSA9) -- Half-day Mondays at Fairfax County elementary schools could be a thing of the past come Thursday. Some county supervisors are promising additional funding to make it happen, according to Fairfax School Board member Janie Strauss.

"Two and a half additional instructional time for all elementary school children. This is important. This is a win for the children," said Strauss. She says parent surveys show overwhelming support, but some are worried about the change.

"My one concern is that teachers do so much work outside the classroom on their own free time and I don't feel like they're paid enough already. So if we take away this Monday (half day-planning time) are they going to have enough time to do their work. And I want our teachers to happy," said Shari Saunders, the mother of a 6th grader at Franklin Sherman Elementary in McLean.

Kimberly Adams, the president of the Fairfax Education Association says teachers think the plan is being rushed through without safeguards to ensure they have appropriate planning time.

"We certainly don't want implementation across this county of another program that doesn't do what they intend to within the first few months and can be more of a stresser than anything else for their employees," said Adams.

However the Fairfax Federation of Teachers say their people are on board.

"Karen Garza is the first superintendent we've had in twenty to thirty years that we as employees inherently trust. She's going to put this in regulation to make sure its going to happen. We have checks and balances in place in process. This is going to happen. These teachers will be protected," said Steven Greenburg, president of the Fairfax FTA.

Greenburg says the plan is to give teachers 240 minutes a week of unencumbered, protected planning time. He says teachers have never been guaranteed protected planning time.

"We have to make sure that in their schedule during the week, in their own schools, they have time to do their individual work. As well as the work they need to do together. That is the promise. So we have to ride hard on this master schedule," said Strauss.

Strauss says the impetus that lead to the push for doing away with half day Monday was the terrible winter which caused 11 snow days for Fairfax County Public Schools. The state requires school districts either provide 180 days or 990 hours of instruction. Because of the half-days in elementary schools, FCPS had to choose 180 days, which could not be made up with hours tacked on other days.

The change would mean a earlier end of school, when snow days pile up.

Written by Peggy Fox


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