Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, both elementary schools will realize the full implementation of “skill classes.” An idea planned many years ago, this change has become necessary now as the district faces ongoing funding deficits. With this change, the Morgan County School District is projected to save $76,800 over the next two years.
Skill classes are simply 30-minute classes within the instructional day that focus on curriculums that often do not receive the planning and preparation teachers would like to give them. Some of these classes include: Health and Physical Education; Fine Arts: Art/Music; English/Language Arts: Technical Subjects – Computers and Keyboarding; Library; Science Lab and Experimentation.
These classes will be taught by part-time paraprofessionals who will work hand-in-hand with grade-level teachers to ensure fidelity to the state curriculums. At the same time, teachers will have 30 minutes within the instructional day to plan lessons, prepare materials, collaborate with colleagues and communicate with parents.
This will save money by moving the above-mentioned teacher preparation activities to within the contract day. Currently, on the elementary level, preparation time is not part of the teacher’s contracted hours. In the past, teachers were asked to log time and submit for reimbursement up to the equivalent of 10 days of preparation time. This allowed teachers to be paid for some of the time spent preparing for class before school, after school, on weekends, and during holidays.
During the 2012-13 school year, elementary teachers’ prep time was reduced from 10 days to five and half days and next year the total reduction of the 10 contract days will be replaced with skill classes.
Ultimately, we hope that by both saving money and increasing the instructional focus on curriculums often lightly covered, our students will benefit. Skill classes have been investigated as a limited pilot at Mountain Green Elementary School for the past two years.
Success has been realized first and foremost through the increased exposure for students to these curriculums. The pilot has also revealed that the additional planning and preparation time is a benefit desired by teachers as well.