The Ottumwa Courier

January 12, 2013

Otttumwa school board shifting professional development schedule

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Next year’s school calendar doesn’t just tell kids when they get breaks. It also determines “early outs” and professional development days.

“Every year, the board has to approve the school calendar,” said Ottumwa Superintendent Davis Eidahl, pointing out that the Ottumwa school board is expected to do that during next week’s meeting

Parents will notice changes in how their children’s schools have early-out days. Originally, Eidahl had wanted to see more benefits from the professional development time for teachers. However, the Community Advisory Board (made up of parents, teachers and other members of the public) said students need more seat time in classrooms.

The district made changes to allow both beneficial philosophies to coexist.

“We scratched out the original plan and revised it based on the feedback,” Eidahl said. “We slide professional development to the front part of the year so current kids get the greatest impact.”

That is, when a teacher learns a new technique for improving reading comprehension, they learn it early in the year so they can go use it with their students.

Though there will be more professional development (PD) early in the school year, there will be less professional development later in the year.

“It will not be any more time for kids out of school, it’s just rearranging the PD we currently have. In fact, by rearranging our days, students will have more uninterrupted weeks without a vacation day or PD day or anything like that, so we’ll have a better instructional flow for students.”

Eidahl expects the school board to also approve some small changes, like giving kids two weeks off around Christmas. Nearly everything else will remain nearly the same, “rolled over” for the new calendar, he said.

Also on the agenda is a vote to approve an early notification incentive plan for district retirees and a motion to approve changes to the construction order at the new southside elementary school.

The Ottumwa school board meets at 6 p.m. Monday in the board office building, 422 McCarroll Drive. The meeting is open to the public.