, Derry, New Hampshire

January 31, 2013

Derry school officials ponder early release days

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — Getting children to and from school when classroom hours are cut short proves a problem for many parents.

To help parents organize the school year calendar better, School Board officials voted to do away with early-release days in favor and placing teacher development days at times when classes don’t have to be cut short.

Superintendent Laura Nelson said having early-release days can often make life difficult for parents who work a full day and can’t take off to bring children home early or find childcare.

“Early-release days are becoming a bit more difficult for parents to manage,” Nelson said.

She noted other towns have surveyed parents about what they would like to see in a school year calendar and how they might like to manage days off, teacher workshop days and vacation times.

Nelson said certain months during the year prove more difficult to manage on the school side as well.

November had many interruptions, she said, with the elections, teacher workshops planned, a snowstorm and standardized testing times.

By voting to eliminate the early-release days, students will have more time to be in the classroom.

“It will bring more focus to time spent on task for students,” Nelson said.

The school calendar for next year will begin with teacher training times set early on in the year.

“Adults need uninterrupted time to learn, too,” Nelson said.

Moving professional development time to the beginning of the school year also got a vote of approval from the Derry Education Association, Nelson said.

School Board Chairman Brenda Willis said she heard from parents that early-release days were tough.

“They are taking time off work,” she said, “and with the economy the way it is and the jobs the way they are, (it’s hard).”