Late-Start Wednesdays Are Staying

Jay Park, Staff Writer

  The introduction of late-start Wednesdays were met with mixed feelings. Some students, like sophomore Ethan Brooks, praised the system for letting them sleep in more.

  “I normally have to come here at seven because my brother has a first period, but the schedule helps a lot,” he said.

  Some people, including junior Adam Lee, disagree.

  “I liked it better when we just had earlier releases. My parents are busy so I get dropped off sooner anyways, because it’s hard to change their plans just for late-start Wednesdays.”

  Either way, late-start Wednesdays have become a permanent part of West Ranch life.

  Aside from student opinions, the process behind implementing this system was complicated. It started three years ago when school’s administration took inspiration from the late-start schedules of other schools in the district.

  “Ultimately, the reason for late-start is you, students. It’s not about the teachers. Evidences of the success of our staff show that we are in the top four percent as a nation. We are on the cutting edge of our profession in preparing you for our future careers. To keep on that cutting edge, we needed more time to plan,” said Linda Cox, business teacher and a member of the committee that presented the schedule.

  With the additional help of administrators, teachers, speech pathologists, and psychologists, a basic framework for this project was fleshed out.

  This site-based decision, a trial run of this new schedule, was proposed to faculty members, outlining the additional benefits his system would give teachers and students. However the results of the voting, where less than 75 percent of the staff approved, invalidated the proposal.

  “I think that people always worry how it [late-start schedule] is rolled out is not how it was advertised. The trepidation of ‘are we really going to do professional learning communities, are we going to-’ those kind of questions are things that any individual wants to make sure it’s going to be the way they were promised,” says Laura Erickson, school librarian and union representative.

  After more detailed observations on how late-start schedules worked in other schools followed by several revisions to the original proposition, it was brought up once again the last year. The outcome turned out to be different.

  The final vote: the late-start schedule was approved, with 89 voting yes, and 17 voting no. After being certified by the teachers, this schedule was submitted to the union and the governing board. These two entities reviewed how the proposal was submitted and received by the faculty members, and officially ratified it.

  This school year was the trial run of that proposal. Just recently, after a year of late-start Wednesdays, the teachers held a second vote that would make this schedule permanent. Once  again, 84 percent of the staff, 92 supporters and 18 opponents, voted for late-start Wednesdays. The identical program was again sent to the union president and the governing board. Now this proposition is pending for approval from these entities, but Erickson says she is confident that both will vote in favor of this schedule.

  All teachers are able to attend professional development regularly without the hindrances of their additional activities such as club supervising or coaching. Also, new teachers have been receiving more district professional development and training to gain experience faster.

  “It’s all about communication. I completely believe in collaborating as a staff. You hear what other people are doing in other departments and sometimes hearing these great ideas might spark something you could try in your classroom,” Cox says. “It is all about being the best teacher you could be so that we could prepare students for success. Late-start gives us those opportunities.”

  “I might work with other 10th grade teachers, it allows us to share ideas, develop lessons, and coordinate so that we can make sure that we are presenting the best opportunities for students,” said English teacher, Michael Smith.“I think ultimately we will see improvements year to year of how students are improving on concepts. In the classroom, we can see students engaging in activities and understanding the curriculum. We can see these kinds of impacts immediately. Long term, I believe we will see test-scores and competency increase as results.”

  After three years, late-start Wednesday schedule has finally become the new normal at West Ranch. Teachers benefit from extra training time, and students are able to enjoy more sleep.