School Board To Look At Whole Half-Day Issue

OSWEGO, NY – A motion to extend the contract of the Oswego school superintendent was tabled Tuesday night as board members wanted to discuss the matter more before voting.

“It’s going to be discussed further before we take any action,” said board member Tom DeCastro who made the motion to table.

Bill Crist was appointed superintendent on Nov. 9, 2008. His contract will expire on June 30, 2012.

Half days or wasted days?

That was the question brought up near the end of  Tuesday’s meeting a school board member regarding the slate of upcoming half days in the school district.

“I’m kind of confused about the number of half days we’ve got coming up,” Fran Hoefer said. “I’m not sure if we have five, 10 or 15 or what.”

There are three coming up in the next few days, board member Sam Tripp added.

There are two contractual days in the school year that allow for teachers to finish up paperwork and there are also early-release days, Superintendent Crist pointed out.

“There are additional days, both in spring and fall semester, for the purpose of parent-teacher conferences,” he explained. “Those are the days that are coming up that you’re mentioning, Sam. It allows for a better percentage of parents to be able to get to the parent-teacher conferences. In some cases, at the high school, the middle school and I believe at the elementary schools, one of those days is set aside as a half day so that the teachers can come back and work the second half of the day, if you will, as part of their parent-teacher conferences.”

At the elementary level, they are scheduled by appointment; at the secondary level, some of that scheduling does take place, also there is an opportunity for parents to just come in and meet with the teachers, the superintendent continued.

The conferences are “pretty well attended,” he added.

Hoefer asked what gets done on the other half of the day. It’s an instructional time, replied Cathy Chamberlain, assistant superintendent for curriculum.

“Students go home. Then the parents come in and meet with the teachers,” Crist said.

Hofer noted that he’d rather see parent-teacher conferences held after the school day is finished, instead of interrupting it.

“It think 15 half days is outrageous. That’s not good for instruction. We’re busing kids all the way into theses schools and then sending them home again after what three hours; 15 times or 16 times a year?

“I have got to believe that in a half day there’s not a whole lot of instruction going on,” Tripp said.

“These half days are wasted days as far as I’m concerned,” Hoefer said. “Period. It’s a wasted day. We can’t afford that if our kids are going to be competing with China and Japan and Europe and France and places like that. It just seems trivial and wasteful.”

“Parents are partners in the education of their kids,” board member Jim Tschudy pointed out. “To have over 90 percent of them (especially elementary) coming in and participating is absolutely fantastic. If there are issues or concerns involving the child this is a perfect opportunity for a discussion.”

There is no reason why parents can’t come in at 3 or 4 or 5 or later instead of breaking the day in half, Hoefer said.

“Let’s not look at just these three (upcoming), let’s look at all the half days,” suggested board president Dave White.

He asked the superintendent to look at the half days throughout the school year and report back to the board on how the situation could be handled more efficiently if possible, without risking the loss of any state aid.