PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — Alpine School District parents are torn over brand-new schedule changes that the school district said will focus on the teacher experience and improve student learning.
While some parents are on board with the changes announced Monday, others said it'll be difficult for their families to adjust to.
According to the new schedule, some elementary schools will start at 8 am and end the day at 2:15 pm, while others will begin at 9:15 am and end at 3:30 pm. All teachers between the two schedules will work from 7:30 am to 4 pm.
This week, school is wrapping up in the Alpine School District. Class is nearly out.
On Monday evening, Amy Anderson's three sons played outside on the sunny evening. The feeling of summer has already arrived, if you ask the kids.
But for the parents, the focus is on next year.
"We were really surprised to then have it change again," Anderson said, of Monday's schedule announcement.
Her boys are in third grade, first grade, and kindergarten at Valley View Elementary School in Pleasant Grove.
She found out that they will all start school at 9:15 am next year. During the pandemic, she explained, half of the kids started earlier and half started later.
"I was thrilled that we have 9:15 and, I'm happy," she said. "The teachers all say that this is what is best for them and for the students that they can have the additional prep time."
Anderson said her boys wake up early every morning, at about 6 am. That extra time in the morning, she said, will allow them to work on homework and other activities.
While it works for her family, others like Janelle Goss explained it's going to throw a wrench in their schedules.
Goss has two daughters. One is in ninth grade currently, the other a third grader.
"It makes it difficult as far as getting everybody out the door at an early hour because of my later work start time," she said.
As a single mom with two jobs, and two daughters who have special accommodations, Goss said the change means her daughters are home alone for a longer period of time in the afternoon.
Plus, the older one takes the younger one home from school, she said. If the younger one is released at an earlier time, it means the older one is in a time crunch trying to walk to the elementary school, Goss indicated.
"It just means a lot of figuring out a new kind of flow for our family," Goss said.
David Stephenson with the Alpine School District said that's why they are releasing the new schedules now before the current school year is over, to give people time to plan.
"We obviously understand that this will be an adjustment for some of our families," he said. "But we do appreciate their support as we implement these new schedules."
The reason some schools are starting and ending earlier and some later, Stephenson clarified, is because they just don't have enough buses and drivers for all elementary schools to start at the same time across the district.
He explained that the district has learned a lot about student learning during the pandemic and found that this schedule allows for less transition time and allows for extra teacher prep time.
There is now an hour of built-in professional development time for teachers every day, either at the beginning or end of the day. On top of that, there is 30 to 45 minutes of extra time before and after school labeled as "personal preparation" time.
"It also provides time before or after school possibilities for help for students, more extensions," Stephenson said.
Anderson is excited about that extra teacher prep time, especially seeing all the work teachers had to do during the pandemic. She said they would bend over backwards to help students, and spend extra hours outside of school to make sure students got what they need.
"They have said that this extra prep time will just help them do even more," she said. "So, I'm excited for them."