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Fairfax Elementary Schools to Scrap 'Half-Mondays' by September

Fairfax County Public Schools voted 10-1 Thursday to end a decades-old policy mandating elementary school students to be dismissed at 12:30 p.m. on Mondays.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
The Fairfax County school board voted Thursday to eliminate half-day Mondays for elementary schools, a policy that has been in place since the 1970s. The decision will add 13 days to the school year in an effort to give schools more flexibility in adjusting calendars for seasonal weather and provide children more recess time.

The board approved the measure 10-1 Thursday as part of a larger calendar overhaul. Students currently attend school until 12:30 on Mondays, which allows teachers to use the remaining time for lesson planning and training.

Which is more important: recess or teacher planning time? Tell us in the comments!

Fairfax County Public Schools plans to add funding to its "teacher position reserve" to ensure schools can afford their teachers working extra hours, WTOP reports. School board member Janie Strauss anticipates the move will cost about $7.5 million. 

A petition on Change.org to "Stop Monday Early Dismissals and Provide More Recess Time" notes that Fairfax County is one of two counties with the shortest elementary school week in the Washington metropolitan area. The petition says parents of elementary school students are dealt an economic burden by having to arrange childcare around specific days of the week. 

The Virginia Standards of Accreditation state the standard school day should last 5.5 hours, excluding breaks for meals and recess. FCPS elementary school students currently have only 10 minutes dedicated to recess, but will now be allowed at least 20 minutes beginning in September.

Kathleen June 28, 2014 at 01:46 PM
My kids had time in other areas like art where they weren't with their primary teachers, but I'm not an expert. I work 7 am to 4:30 pm, M-F. I believe most elem school hours are something like 8:15 to 3 pm (granted they have teacher work days to balance out back to school nights, etc), which is not a full 8.5 hour day that county employees work.. I do know that teachers got raises when many others did not. They do get summers off, they do have higher starting salaries than most county or state employees in other fields such as social worker, probation officers, etc. Again, not to be disrespectful, it is difficult work but so are many other jobs which did not receive millions of dollars more when case loads went up and /or staffing went down. I love my work and accept the very long hours and stress as part of providing public service. Each job carries it's own delights and burdens. My basic premise is that no other employee group that I know of got millions more when staffing was cut, case loads were increased, etc I still don't believe FCPS automatically needs 7 million more simply because of this change. It's not a matter of who works harder or what is fair, but more that there is a limited pot of money and all public service programs must be regarded and treated equitably. I would love to give teachers more money but not when I consider what else has to be cut in order to do so.
Barbara June 28, 2014 at 01:52 PM
Students may leave at 3pm, but teachers work another 2 hours minimum. Also start 30 - 60 minutes before students arrive....making a 9-10 hour day. Our district took paycuts from 2008-2013 to get through the lean times. I'm not a Fairfax teacher.
Kathleen June 28, 2014 at 01:59 PM
I and my colleagues also have to keep up our certification on our own time and expense, no difference here. Comparing base pay a teacher may be paid $50,000 to work 10 months, we are paid $50,000 to work 12 months. Annual pay is slightly lower in my field but we work 12 months so I believe it is a fair statement that teachers get summers off. At least they have the time to work a part time job to get extra pay or take those classes needed. It is really just a matter of semantics. Even given that teachers have to be at the school 30 min prior and 30 min after, with a 5.5 hour school day that is still just 6.5 or 7 hours a day when most jobs require 8.5 with an unpaid lunch. Don't the pre and post 30 min allow some planning time? When the tax office opens, the courts, family services open to the public they also need to prep to be actually ready to open their doors, that seems like a pretty basic business model. When the last customer leaves our office we still need to finish up notes, intake, follow ups that we didn't have a chance too while clients where in the office. I believe teachers do work hard but so do other people, who seem to get far less recognition than teachers do.
Kathleen June 28, 2014 at 02:07 PM
While we may disagree I do appreciate the civil discourse. Barring the money issue, what do others feel about the Monday early dismissal change - is it good or bad? From a single working parent perspective it is a god send.
D. Read June 28, 2014 at 03:51 PM
I am sorry if my comments came across as disrespectful to teachers. I have dear friends who are teachers and they are some of the hardest working people I know. Teaching is a fine profession and should be accorded the same status, pay, and respect as it is in Finland, which has the best educational system in the western world, or so I have been informed. I just think the early closing on Mondays was disrespectful of parents, who have the task of supporting their children by working and who aren't given a half-day off on Mondays to take care of their family obligations.

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