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Vance stands up for district policy

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 24th, 2013

Keith Vance



Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Policy has a purpose, and Alamosa Board of Education (ABOE) Official Keith Vance wants to see the Alamosa School District (ASD) is in compliance down to every last minute.

On Monday, Vance brought forth his concerns to the ABOE regarding the recently approved and highly controversial 2013-2014 ASD calendar, and he recommended solutions to ensure Alamosa students are achieving excellence while teachers are provided ample preparation time.

The Colorado Compulsory School Attendance Law requires elementary students to attend school for 968 hours in a school year and secondary students for 1,056. Alamosa Elementary is in no danger of falling short of the requirements, but both Ortega Middle School (OMS) and Alamosa High School are walking the line. The approved 2013-2014 calendar considers passing periods, a total of 25 minutes needed to make the cut, as student-teacher contact time, which the state approves, but ASD policy does not.

“There is not contact during passing periods,” Vance said. “We are not an A-plus school yet. No doubt, more contact time would increase student performance.”

The policy states “actively engaged in the educational process” or student contact time shall not include: lunch; time students spend before school waiting for classes to begin and time after the last class of the day, including waiting for the bus; recess time; teacher preparation time; and passing periods between classes.

In order to meet or exceed state requirements, the ASD would have to negotiate the Master Agreement amendments with the teachers, Vance explained. Amendment examples he included are the definition of “work day” to include restructured hours; no longer requiring teachers to arrive 15 minutes before and stay 15 minutes after school; changing the bus schedule so secondary students begin school at 7:45 a.m. and elementary students begin at 8:05 a.m.; and a shorter passing period.

Another way he recommended to follow ASD policy would be to amend the Master Agreement to add 12 days or 72 hours to the school year.

“We fix it and we don’t change policy,” Vance said. “We increase our contact time because in reality there is no contact.”

ABOE Official Christine Haslett, who is working closely with the 2013-2014 Master Agreement negotiations committee, said she understood teachers were “actively engaging with students” during passing periods.

“They are in contact with the students,” Haslett said. “It may not be instructional time, but it is student teacher contact time.”

OMS teacher librarian and Alamosa Education Association President Patti Kruger validated Haslett’s understanding. She said that Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), an anti-bullying initiative, has teachers “implementing to change the climate of schools.”

“It is important that we are in the hallways all of the time, which we are,” Kruger said.

It was agreed the Master Agreement negotiations committee would hear Vance’s concerns and a report would come before the ABOE when available.

“Policy is a quick and easy fix,” Vance said, “and it is not in line with excellence.”

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