OPS district board modifies 2021-22 school calendar, affects North High teachers

Nayera Abdessalam, Managing Editor and Backpage writer

On September 9th, OPS board members voted all in favor of changing five student learning days to various forms of teacher planning and development days. This is part of the Academic Acceleration and Recovery efforts that OPS is implementing this year in wake of learning time lost last year due to COVID-19 (ops.org SparqData). 

Academic Acceleration and Recovery calls for more time for teachers to prep material, lesson plan, and communicate with one another. By modifying the calendar there will be more support for professional development which will in turn positively impact student learning, according to speaker Scott Schmidtbonne at the board meeting.  

Teachers in our building are affected by this transition. Steven Steinbruck and Jenna Hotze, two math teachers at North, recognize both positives and negatives that have come from this. 

Neither teacher was notified very far in advance, if at all, about these changes.  Hotze said that all the cancelled and missed class time last year prepared her for these kinds of sudden changes, as teachers are generally not kept in the know and have to be ready for unexpected things like this to come up.   

Hotze said, “I was glad from a teacher’s perspective, because a lot of us were getting burnout and those days helped us have time to plan and get caught up.”  

Steinbruck pointed out that students would be missing out on class time and falling behind their peers, which in the future will be the people in competition for the same jobs.  

In Hotze’s math classes, the decrease in student contact days has negatively affected her curriculum schedule. However, she still believes the benefits outweigh this.   

“…something had to give. Teachers are losing their plan time 2-3 times a week (some even more) to covering for teachers.  We have a lot of responsibilities added to our plate every year, but without extra pay or plan time.” 

One of the changes made to the calendar was adding an Articulation Day. District superintendent, Dr. Cheryl Logan notes that this is a new concept to the district but is popular in many other surrounding districts.  

“…[it is an] opportunity for collaboration among teachers and school staff as students prepare to move from one grade level or from one school to the next,” said Logan.