Stow-Munroe Falls High School students may be able to sleep in one day during the school week this year.
Beginning Aug. 30, SMFHS students will have a delayed start on Wednesdays, pushing the start time for classes back to 9:30 a.m. as part of a pilot program. That day's schedule will be abbreviated, the same as when two-hour delays occur during inclement weather.
Principal Dr. Jeff Hartmann says the implementation of the embedded professional development program is an opportunity "to improve the quality of what happens between teachers and students."
During the two-hour period, from 7:30 to 9:30, teachers will work together to study data regarding students' academic performance, collaborate to improve instructional practices, work on common assessments and "provide targeted interventions to struggling students."
Hartmann said the elementary and middle schools have time built into their day for teachers to meet and work together, but "historically we have been pulling [high school] teachers out for all-day meetings. They miss the kids, the kids miss them. It's not conducive to maintaining the flow."
Unlike the elementary and middle schools, where several teachers may be teaching the same grade or working as a team, the high school functions with teachers instructing multiple courses and grade levels. Having this set time period will allow for more planning, working on assessments, looking at data and co-planning with inclusion teachers.
"We were aware of a need for people to get together, to improve practices, to discuss curriculum and address issues such as truancy laws," Hartmann said. Also, it gives the "great relationship" between the high school counselors, administrators, the Stow Youth Division, the school resource officer, nurses and social workers time for "getting together to see what's going on in the community and what to be on the lookout for."
"I'm looking forward to piloting this new program in order to get our personnel the training they need for students while also not having them miss as much class time with students. I'm hopeful this system will allow for both and that it's a win-win situation," said Superintendent Tom Bratten.
Only freshmen will attend classes on Aug. 22; Aug. 23 will see the 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders joining the freshmen for the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. The delayed start schedule will start Aug. 30.
Hartmann stressed this change in scheduling has been planned so not to create any transportation problems for parents. Students riding buses and those who have scheduled transportation at the 7:30 hour will still have the opportunity to arrive at school at that time and will have a supported study hall for the two hours. Morning bus routes will remain the same.
He estimated about half of the 1,800 student body ride the buses, while the other either half drives to school, bike, walks or catches rides with others.
"I wanted also to make sure that schedules for parents weren't affected by still allowing for normal times for families if needed and I think we were able to accomplish that," Bratten noted.
Hartmann said the delayed start also offers parents an opportunity to schedule doctor and dental appointments without having the kids miss school.
"It's going to make a difference for kids . . . now we're increasing face time between the teachers and students."
He added other districts, such as Cuyahoga Falls and Hudson, have implemented similar programs and seen "academic growth."
Hartmann said he and the staff are "super excited and anxious to get into it. It's going to be a cool year."