After batting back and forth for several weeks the idea of giving teachers more time to plan for classes during COVID-19 through the concept known as flex days, members of the Williamson County Board of Education overwhelmingly approved the resolution during Monday night’s meeting.
Ten members voted yay to the proposal from Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden, with one abstention from District 2 representative Dan Cash. Candy Emerson from District 8 was absent.
The proposal, which was floated before board members back in September in the form of a rough draft of sorts, had originally called for nine Fridays in which K-12 students would stay home and have mostly asynchronous learning. During that time, teachers would work in the school buildings and take advantage of more time for planning.
The first day was initially scheduled for Oct. 23, but Golden and his staff altered the plan to make it eight days and the first one on tap for Nov. 13. Ensuing days are Dec. 4, Jan. 15, J. 29, Feb. 5, Feb. 26, March 12 and March 26.
“Ultimately, this is a big lift and a big request,” Golden said Monday in presenting his request to the board. “It’s unusual, outside the box. It’s not something we would request under ordinary times.”
The topic took up a good part of Thursday night’s six-hour work session. Discussions stretched even more Monday night when District 5 member Jen Aprea made an amendment to the proposal. She asked that the two days in the current semester remain the same, but to makes the six days in the second semester just half-days for elementary grades. To give those teachers the same time as those at the secondary level, remaining half-days would be added at staff discretion.
Aprea’s amendment generated a significant amount of talk among board members, but ultimately failed to pass by an 8-3 vote against.
“So many of you mentioned specifically that you recognize teachers need more time,” Golden said. “I’m convinced that additional time will ultimately result in a net positive for students, because of the quality instruction, because of lesson plans, because of teachers being able to get together and find ways to alter their pedagogy — their ways to teach — to address these challenges we are facing from COVID.”
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