Wilmington Public Schools May Add 4 Early Dismissals Next Year (Increasing From 5 To 9)

WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington School Committee is currently considering a recommendation from Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand to add FOUR early dismissal days to next year’s school calendar, increasing the total number of early dismissals from FIVE to NINE. The number of school days for students — 180 — would remain unchanged.

Brand is proposing these changes in order to increase the amount of professional collaboration time for teachers.

“As a district, we have a range of extremely important work within the broad areas of curriculum, instruction, learning and the implementation of specific social and emotional programs for our students,” said Brand. “These endeavors are formalized without our current strategic plan and it is my firm belief that a major hurdle in allowing our district to implement these with fidelity centers around limitations in time to support professional development.”

Dismissal time for students would remain consistent for all 9 days. 4 of the 9 Early Dismissal days would be designated at “Curriculum Improvement Time” and the staff workday would be extended by just one hour per agreed to in the collective bargaining agreement.

Brand also provided a brief summary of where Wilmington stands relative to comparable districts:

Screen Shot 2020-01-28 at 11.16.21 AM

Brand noted the district’s sole full professional development day on November’s Election Day would remain.

The proposed 2020-2021 school calendar is below. The calendar remains largely unchanged from the current calendar, aside from the addition of the 4 early dismissal days. A clear version of this calendar can be viewed HERE on page 32.

Wilmington School Calendar

School Committee Reacts

School Committee member MJ Byrnes expressed concerns over how the additional four early dismissal days would impact student learning.

“The regulatory hours for instruction are set by the state. 990 hours is the amount of time in which schools at the secondary level need to hit minimally, and 900 hours at the elementary level…. By our review, we would still be within those limits,” responded Brand. “But this would clearly impact instruction. This would result in a decrease of some hours in classrooms, there’s no question. That’s the careful balance of this proposal.”

School Committee member Jay Samaha wanted the committee to be cognizant of the impact half-days have on working families.

“With both parents working, childcare can be difficult. That needs to be considered as we go forward with this proposal,” added Samaha.

School Committee member David Ragsdale asked why all four new early dismissal days were on Wednesdays — one in October, December, February, and March. On the one hand, he liked the consistency, but on the other, he questioned if some of the same classes would be impacted each time.

“We lose instructional time, but we balance that with what we gain,” said Ragsdale. “But if we’re losing instructional time in the same thing everytime — especially at the elementary level when the schedules aren’t always changing — I wonder if that’s something to consider. Subjects aren’t going to be impacted equally.”

“I conceptually agree with the idea of providing more time for professional development, but I agree with my colleagues who have concerns with time on instruction and impact on families,” chimed in School Committee Chair Jennifer Bryson. “I’m wondering if we can make a suggestion or copromise a bit.”

Bryson specifically mentioned how a proposed early dismissal on December 16 is so close to the Winter Break, and the proposed early dismissal on February 24 is right after February vacation. She also noted that Parent-Teacher Conferences will also cause half days, which is something else parents need to deal with.

Bryson looks forward to hearing any feedback that parents may have about the proposed addition of four early dismissal days.

The School Committee could potentially vote on the calendar at their next meeting on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 7pm at the High School.

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