Fairfax Co. School Board Approves Full Mondays for Elementary Schools

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Northern Virginia bureau reporter David Culver talks with teachers about the school board voting on work load changes. (Published Thursday, Jun 26, 2014)

    On the first day of summer break, the Fairfax County School Board is already looking ahead to the next school year.

    Thursday night, the school board approved extending elementary school Mondays to full days of class, though teachers fear it will increase their workloads.

    For more than a year, teachers have vented their growing frustrations over added responsibilities, meetings and increased expectations. It's left them with little time for personal lives, they said.

    Many even threatened to leave the school system if a resolution wasn't reached.

    School board members say it comes down to finding a balance between meeting state-mandated requirements for the number of classroom hours, and giving teachers enough planning time, all while starting after Labor Day pursuant to the Commonwealth's so-called 'Kings Dominion Law'.

    "There was a point about five years ago where I started to contemplate leaving the profession, and this year I really strongly thought about it in the fall," kindergarten teacher Melissa Brown said.

    Brown recently wrapped up her 16th year as a Fairfax County teacher. She's hopeful the school board's decision to extend elementary school Mondays will open up more planning time for her and her colleagues.

    "I would see my planning time for myself double," Brown said, assuming the proposal is implemented as suggested.

    The board is also considering limiting the number of required teacher meetings.

    "... So that those teachers will have self-directed time, to do their planning, to do their grading, and to do better collaboration with their peers," school board member Elizabeth Schultz said.

    Schultz said full day Mondays will also make for a more consistent family routine, and will create more built-in snow days for all county grade levels.

    "As soon as we use up the allotted snow days, the teacher workdays, well I guess President's Day is the first thing to go, and then teacher workdays get cut," added high school math teacher Lynn Schmauder, who's now rethinking her profession.

    "There are certain aspects of my job that I dearly love," Schmauder said. "I love being in the classroom, I love teaching math, love the kids, but I also vaguely remember that I loved having another life too."

    Brown remains hopeful the change will make life more manageable.

    "I don't think it's going to be an end-all, but I think it's going to be a huge step, a huge first step," she added.