Educators at Year-Round Schools Organize around their schedules… and win!

Yet another challenging issue with APS’ proposed 2020-21 school calendar changes has become apparent: what to do about schools already on a year-round schedule. Cochiti, Duranes, Eugene Field, Mary Ann Binford, Mark Twain, Oñate, and S.R. Marmon Elementary schools currently operate on an alternative (year-round) schedule. Some of these communities have used this schedule for decades and tout the results. Students attend the same number of school days as the traditional calendar, but the schedule allows for more frequent breaks at different times of the year as opposed to one long break during the summer.

Educators and families who prefer this schedule flock to these schools and, for the most part, stay there. Educators assert that the schedule counters the intensity of the traditional calendar. They cite the intermittent breaks as a key to avoiding burnout. They also claim that the shorter summer vacation leads to less need to mitigate losses in skills and content students suffer during the summer months.

In conversations with district leaders, ATF was told that APS Payroll simply can’t manage four calendars. This led Fed Reps from several of the schools to reach out to ATF Leadership & Staff and begin to organize their colleagues and communities around this issue.

After an initial planning session with President Ellen Bernstein on January 9th, the union reps had a quick turn-around time to get ready for the Board meeting held only 6 days later.

ATF Fed Reps and members from Year-Round schools were ready to advocate for their students, their schools, and their communities at the APS Board of Education meeting on January 15th. More than a dozen speakers voiced their concerns to the Board about the detriment to their students and families the proposed loss of the year-round school calendar would cause. They questioned the arbitrary nature of the decision to get rid of their calendar.

One concern noted by Elisabeth Hall, Mark Twain Elementary educator, is that facilities are rarely ready at the start of the school calendar, no matter when it occurs. At the start of the 2019-20 school year, for example, many classrooms bore the sweltering heat with no air conditioning because of a backlog of HVAC jobs left unfinished. Often, classroom materials and consumables are not available, either. Hall asked how APS plans to manage to meet the challenges of a new schedule.

Lynette Baca, a Mary Ann Binford Elementary teacher, told the Board that the school’s current calendar has served the community well for decades. “What works is what we have,” said Baca. Baca and Velora Lucero, who also teaches at Mary Ann Binford, told the Board they commute long distances simply to be able to work with families at a year-round school. Lucero went on to say that in Reading and Math, the students scored highest in APS Zone 1.

Finally, school personnel, both classified and certified, explained that they would be forced to go at least a month without a paycheck when these schools lose their year-round calendar. This financial hardship will not bode well for so many of our employees and their families.

Having heard the concerns, Board President Dave Peercy directed APS Administration to “fix it.”

The Board voted on the issue and decided that year-round schools would be able to keep their schedules for the coming school year.

This action is another example of the power of organizing and collective voice to make and sustain meaningful change. We can achieve much more together than we can individually.

Thank you to those who spoke out for our students, educators, and communities. Thank you to the Board of Education for voting in support of communities having the autonomy to choose the calendar that best fits their schools’ needs.

Information about Extended Learning Time Plans

 Schools have the choice of a traditional calendar or two extended learning plans that add 10 days to the 2020-2021 school year.

The two extended learning time (ELT) calendars add 10 days to the school year as well as additional hours for staff professional development:

  1. Extended Learning Plan A adds 5 days to the beginning and 5 days to the end of the school year.
  2. Extended Learning Plan B is a year-round calendar with several breaks throughout the

Schools will begin reviewing the three options when they return from winter break, seeking input from students, staff, families, and their communities. They will need to decide which calendar works best for them by mid-February.

Calendar Downloads

Why Extend the School Year?

 When lawmakers passed and the governor signed a bill earlier this year providing more public education funding, they specifically earmarked two initiatives for the state’s 89 school districts. One of those initiatives, the Extended Learning Time Program, adds 10 days of learning to the school year.

How Does Extended Learning Help Students? 

  • Research shows that more time in the classroom can boost student achievement and help students retain more of what they learn over the
  • More time in school means more access to resources including hot meals, counselors, nurses and social and community
  • Schools can personalize the school day to meet the needs of their students, incorporating innovation, enrichment, and extra
  • Extended learning plans include after-school programs for

Logistics: 

  • The 80 hours of required PD in the Extended School Year calendars will be divided up between 31.5 hours of PD that is already scheduled within the duty day (ie: the days at the beginning of the year) and an additional 48.5 hours scheduled throughout the year.

o All staff at ELT schools will be paid based on a 6.75 duty day, in order to avoid timesheets for the required additional PD time.

  • The schedule for 80-hours of professional development will be developed through the instructional council and is able to be used flexibly throughout the
  • For example, if a staff chooses to add 2 hours of PD one week, followed up by 6 hours of collaborative action research utilizing what they learned, that could equal 8 of the 80 hours over a month of
  • The Instructional Council at each site will be responsible for working with the staff in order to come to consensus about how the instructional and professional development time is designed.
  • The PD should be connected to the theme/purpose of the additional instructional days.
  • All employees who work at ELT schools are compensated for the additional days and hours at their regular rate of

Timeline:

(Please note that this is a fluid timeline that is subject to change.)

  • January 9th: Principals will meet and bring back a PowerPoint to present to staff. The instructional Council will work with the staff and community to brainstorm how the additional time could be best designed incorporating innovation, enrichment, and extra help. These are just a few examples to begin the conversation:
    • HS – Building community, upper grades mentoring younger students
    • ES – Whole school home visits
    • Activities that embed Social Emotional Learning, Culturally and Linguistically responsive instruction,
    • Creativity camps that include music, art, dance, cooperative play
    • Science focused project-based learning
    • Community gardening
    • Civics education and includes Community Service and Service Learning Projects, Beautification projects on school grounds (murals, gardens, etc.), School-wide Student Government, Culture projects, School Exchanges
    • MS – Review of previous year’s standards for successful transition
    • School-wide cross-curricular projects
  • January – Mid-February: Schools review calendar options through their Instructional Councils, parent organizations, staff meetings, and community meetings. Staff and families will vote for calendar options.
    • The preferred calendar option for each school site is based on a simple majority of those who vote (As per APS procedural directive a simple majority is 50%+1).
  • February 12th: schools will submit their choices on the ELTP

All APS schools are eligible to submit an Extended Learning Time Plan.

  • The number of sites funded is dependent on state
  • Sites with a greater consensus among staff and between staff and community will receive priority

Summer options: The programs listed below are available for schools on a traditional calendar and schools on Extended Learning Time Plan A.

  • Elementary K5 Plus
  • Elementary Summer Learning Adventure
  • Middle School Wild Adventure
  • High School Summer School

Note: APS is holding 3 voluntary meetings at the Berna Facio building for interested Instructional Councils. Monday, 1/13 from 8-9 or from 4-5 and Wednesday, 1/15 from 3-4.