District begins weekly Late Start Mondays

The first hour of every Monday will see teachers learning while their students get a free period.

This is the idea behind Duncan Public Schools’ new district-wide Late Start Mondays, which see classes all across Duncan starting almost an hour later than they did before. The new policy was put into place so that teachers can have that time to collaborate with each other and come up with strategies to improve student learning.

Merry Stone, assistant superintendent of the district, compared this new planning time to similar policies in other professional areas.

“If you think about other professions, doctors have Monday meetings, and they get together and talk about the progress of their patients. Big companies get together and have meetings where they talk about their profitability and things that are going on within their company,” she said. “So it’s much like that. It’s allowing teachers and educators the time to do that.”

Superintendent Melonie Hau believes that this teacher planning time will benefit many aspects of student life around the district.

“It’s not only about the academic learning; it’s also about the whole child,” she said. “Teachers will be able to talk about those social issues, those emotional issues. You know, how kids are struggling; maybe kids need additional resources for that extra support as well.”

One notable aspect of the new program is the fact that the buses are going to be running at the same time. This leaves students who have to ride the bus stranded at their school for almost an hour while teachers have their planning time.

Stone explained that the decision to leave the bus schedule unchanged was made to avoid inconveniencing students’ families.

“We have a lot of working parents, and they can’t be late to work every Monday morning. Breakfast will be served in the mornings, so kids that come can eat breakfast,” she said. “As we start this process, we certainly didn’t want our families to be inconvenienced.”

At the high school, students who arrive at school at the standard time will go to the auditorium. Principal Justin Smith says that, while the administration may provide student-led activities for the students in the auditorium, they are waiting to do so until they know how many students they’re dealing with.

“We’re just kind of waiting to see how many students we’re going to have before we start any student-led stuff,” he said. “There’s no need for whoever is going to do the activities to come up here and work a lot for 50 kids.”

Smith said that around 100 to 200 students are in the auditorium every Monday, and if those numbers persist, then the administration may begin student-led activities soon. He also elaborated on what those activities might be.

“We may do stuff like texting and driving or teen pregnancies or mixing with social media,” he said.

However, he also said that, if student-led activities don’t work out, the administration may find other ways to occupy the students’ time, such as the arts and crafts activities provided outside of the library.

While the Late Start Mondays program is still very new, the plan is for it to be a permanent way of life at Duncan Public Schools. Smith said that Late Start Mondays aren’t expected to go anywhere any time soon.

While this change of operations in Duncan is still in its infancy, the district is committed to making it work. According to Hau, the district is doing its best to prove that the program is in everyone’s best interest.

“Our goal is to make sure that it’s a success and that parents know that it’s really worth the time that we’re spending for teachers to meet together,” she said.