For parents and teachers in Adams County School District 27J, the longer hours have required more of an adjustment than the shorter weeks. “My daughter gets at 5:15 p.m., because she rides the …
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For parents and teachers in Adams County School District 27J, the longer hours have required more of an adjustment than the shorter weeks.
“My daughter gets at 5:15 p.m., because she rides the bus,” parent Crystal Gallegos said. “We have an hour of homework, we eat dinner and then we go to bed.”
The district, which covers the eastern part of Adams County, including Brighton and parts of Thornton, went to a short—week schedule beginning last fall. The school board voted in March 2018 to adopt a four-day per week schedule, giving students and teachers Mondays off.
It didn’t change the number of hours the students needed to meet state standards, so the school day was expanded. Middle and high school students are in class from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., elementary students from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“The research says middle and high school students need more sleep in the morning, so that’s how we’ve structured our schedule,” School District Public Information Officer Tracy Rudnick said.
But it’s taken some getting used to, during the winter when the days get dark earlier.
“We’re going to be starting sports here soon, so we’ll see how that works out,” Gallegos said. “It’s been a little hard, but we’ve made the adjustments. And we’ll roll with it, if it gets us better teachers.”
The change was spurred by school officials coming up with ways to help the teachers have more time to plan their lessons and feel better taken care of by the district.
Kathey Ruybal, president of the Brighton Education Association — the union for District 27J’s teachers — said its meant long days for everyone.
“The days are long, but teachers days are long in general,” Ruybal said. “Most of the reaction we’ve heard is that the kids deal with it. But when you hear that the students days can be nine hours long, the teachers days are even longer. They work before and after school, so their days can be ten hours and up.”
The extra day off
But Ruybal said teachers do appreciate having their Monday’s free. Many have children attending the district, it works out well.
“The idea has been to have Monday off, but and they do appreciate that,” Ruybal said. “But, of course, there are many doing planning and grading on their Mondays. They are not working any less, its just made them reorganize their time.”
Gallegos said it’s allowed her kids to expand their activities. She has two, 12-year-old Angelica and nine-year-old Paul. Both have volunteered at the Barr Lake State Park each Monday this year.
“They go in every Monday and they help give tours, feed the birds and clean out the cages,” Ruyball said. “They go on hikes, help organize birthday parties. They’ve put in about 60 hours volunteering since this started.”
Overall, Ruybal gave the change a passing grade. It’s worked out fine, but it’s taken some adjustment.
“The kids have adjusted amazingly well, even quicker than we’d expected,” she said. “We expected this to be a long-term adjustment but they came in and were OK with it, even the younger kids who we were really worried about.”
Rudnik said the district hasn’t even had a full year under the new system, so it’s too early to rate it fairly.
“We’ve said all along, it will take a good three years to get real concrete data,” Rudnik said. “It’ll take that long to see if abscenses went up or down or if we’re using more substitute teachers. There is still so much going on.”
She doesn’t expect it to change enrollment. 27J Schools is projected to enroll more than 19,000 students in the fall of 2019 and to add 3,400 more students in the next five years and beyond, she said. That would give the district 22,300 students in the fall 2023 and 26,400 students for the 2028/29 school year.
“We are not worried right now, because there is so much growth in this area,” she said. “We know our numbers are going to keep going up and up and we know we’re going to have to continue to build more schools.”
27J Schools is hosting a career for new teachers April 6 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Riverdale Ridge High School, 13380 Yosemite St. in Thornton.
Attendees will meet one-on-one with key, 27J hiring-decision makers. The 2018 fair attracted more than 500 educators, according to organizers.
The district is seeking teaching, school-based support and other applicants for positions across the PreK-through-12th grade spectrum.
Those interested in attending can register online at bit.ly/27Jfair19 or at http://workat27j.com.
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