Wenatchee School District is considering changing autumn parent/teacher conferences to three full days for the 2017/2018 school year. Currently, conferences take place during five half days of school. Three full days of conferences would add morning conference times, which are not available now. Day and evening conferences will still be available, and teachers would be able to spend more time with parents, if needed.
A committee of teachers, classified staff and administrators studied school districts in our region and around the state, and surveyed staff. Eighty-four percent of the 176 staff who responded were in favor of trying the new schedule. Regionally, Eastmont, Cascade and Chelan school districts hold full day conferences. Eastmont and Wenatchee try to coordinate schedules whenever possible.
“By having three full days available, we have more hours for conferences and are able to adjust our working hours to meet the needs of the families that we serve,” says Eva Martinez, 4th grade math teacher at Lewis & Clark and calendar committee member.
Wenatchee High School English teacher and committee member Chris Cloke adds, “Full days for conferences not only allow the schools to flex the hours to better suit the needs of the parents but also increases the number of hours the schools can provide for conferencing with parents.”
The current schedule provides 17.5 hours for conferences, while the three full days would allow 21 hours. The committee hopes that missing three full days of school will be less of an interruption to families and to instruction than missing five half days. The new schedule would also allow families to enjoy a short break in the fall.
“The goal with conferences is always centered on helping students and providing parents with the information they need to support their children to succeed in school,” says Cloke.
Conferences will most likely be held in late October or early November. Spring conferences would be increased from one half day to one full day.
The new calendar would also include four days of Professional Development for teachers before school starts, two days of professional development imbedded during the year, and two non-contracted days. Professional development for classified staff would be held during conference days, including training in safety and supervision, PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports), right response and quality service.
The staff will vote on the new calendar this week, January 9-13. Whichever calendar is chosen will go the the Wenatchee School Board at the January 24, 2017 meeting.
If the three full day conference option is selected the school board will apply for a waiver from the state. When conferences are held for a half day, the state a counts them as a full day, contributing to the required 180 days of school per year. If conferences are held for a full day, the state must approve the days as counting toward the 180 day school calendar. Because the days are used for conferences, the state commonly approves them as instructional days meeting the 180 day requirement.
“We will continue to try to adjust what we do in order to better serve our community's children,” says Cloke.
School Calendar Committee Members
Chris Cloke, High School Certificated Representative
Brenda Hargraves, Middle School Certificated Representative
Eva Martinez, Elementary Certificated Representative
Deb Lewin, Classified Representative
Heather Bertomeu, Classified Representative
Lisa Turner, Executive Director of Human Resources