GV Academic Schedule Takes On New Look

GAYVILLE — Starting next fall, some Mondays will offer more than the start of a school week for Gayville-Volin students and staff.

The Gayville-Volin School District board of education has adopted a new calendar for the 2010-2011 school year. During its regular March meeting, the board voted unanimously to adopt the calendar.

The modified calendar uses selected Mondays to offer opportunities for student enrichment, remedial work and professional staff development, said Superintendent Jason Selchert.

"The calendar highlights a commitment to students and staff," he said.

Selchert noted the district is not moving to a four-day week. The calendar does not offer the special activities every Monday of the school year, he said.

"It is Mondays in August and May," he said. "Then, when there is a break in the end of the week or a holiday, we will go on Monday to make up the days."

Gayville-Volin school officials talked extensively with the Avon district, which uses a similar calendar, Selchert said.

Avon's modified calendar offers time for student enrichment and staff development. The calendar also reduces time previously lost to early dismissals, late starts and other factors.

The Gayville-Volin board recently adopted the calendar, but the idea is nothing new for the district, Selchert said.

"This initiative has been discussed for some time informally. We actively discussed it for two board meetings and adopted the calendar," he said.

"The calendar was adopted to infuse time and resources into a schedule that was already over-packed. Too many issues, too few resources. This gives more time without losing instructional time."

The Gayville-Volin district will serve students during scheduled days off from the classroom, Selchert said. The district will also implement a new professional development model for the staff. That model embraces 21st century teaching and learning, he said.

"This was a two-month process, but an idea that has been researched for years," he said. "That is, how do we offer more services to our students and give our staff the needed professional development within a limited budget? We believe we have found that mechanism."

Gayville-Volin students will not sacrifice instructional time as the district has built in roughly the same number of hours as in previous years, Selchert said. However, students and parents will see a major change, as early dismissals, parent-teacher conferences and staff in-services all move to Mondays.

The change will make better use of the school calendar, said Gayville-Volin elementary principal Jesse Sealey.

"I think this will be a much wiser use of our time," Sealey said. "We are adjusting some of our instructional time as well as providing more opportunities for staff development."

The calendar has worked well elsewhere in South Dakota, said Gayville-Volin secondary principal Tom Rice.

"In discussing the implementation of the modified calendar with other school districts in our state, students and staff agreed that the change has been beneficial on both sides," he said.

"Students have enjoyed the opportunity to get more one-on-one time with faculty on the scheduled enrichment days, while staff members have noted an increase in the quality of professional development time."

The scheduled Mondays will offer flexibility for both students and staff, Selchert said. Students can take advantage of the Mondays for either enrichment activities or remedial work, he said.

"Times will be set up and posted so parents will know, and also teachers will be contacting parents to set up times if they feel it is warranted," the superintendent said. "It will not stop students from coming in and getting tutoring."

The modified calendar will also allow staff more opportunities for professional development, Selchert said. The staff will work on specific outcomes, he said.

The professional development will center around 21st Century Teaching and Learning, Integration of Technology in the Classroom and teacher effectiveness, Selchert said.

The new calendar will focus on the district's current initiatives, he said. That includes South Dakota's school model entitled "High Schools 2025," he added.

The new calendar takes into account Gayville-Volin's distance-learning program, Selchert said.

"The new calendar should not negatively affect the distance learning," he said. "We are still working out scheduling for pre-school and Head Start, but these programs will not see any significant change in instructional time. We are evaluating feedback from our early-childhood instructors and principals to determine the most beneficial way of moving forward."

Overall, the new calendar should achieve a number of goals, Selchert said.

"We will be providing more services to our students," he said. "We believe we will see great benefit in a short period of time."

The adopted calendar can be found online at http://www.gayvillevolin.k12.sd.us.

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