Hickman High School gains late-start Tuesdays

Saturday, July 5, 2008 | 8:07 p.m. CDT; updated 4:54 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Since Principal Michael Jeffers has been at Hickman High School , starting classes later has been an ongoing faculty conversation, and the issue itself has been a topic for the past five years. Now, Hickman has finally reached a decision.

Starting this year, every Tuesday classes will start at 8:20 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m. Hickman will operate on its regular schedule from 7:50 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. on other school days.

The Hickman High School Parents Teachers Students Association and Student Government Executive Board were part of this discussion and favored this late-start decision.

“We have been trying to do this for several years, but we couldn’t find a consistent time,” Jeffers said. “The teachers need more of that time to work together centered around their daily work.”

In past years, teachers were only able to meet once a month after school, and this inconvenienced teachers, students and families. Jeffers said Hickman has tried to prevent these headaches by adding built-in collaboration time on Tuesday mornings.

“Collaboration has been a hallmark of our professional development program,” he said. “I think this is a huge morale boost for our staff.”

Teachers are put into development teams and given time to discuss, collaborate and share their experiences.

Hickman isn’t the only school with built-in collaboration time for its staff. Rock Bridge High School has its collaboration during the day because it operates on a block schedule.

“Since we’re on a traditional schedule, it makes sense for us to have a late start,” Jeffers said.

On a block schedule, teachers have 90 minutes of planning time, whereas teachers working traditional schedules only have 50 minutes. Teachers are given designated collaboration time during the day.

Jeffers said that Rock Bridge has a 15 minute longer school day to balance the 90 minute planning time. Hickman is adding five minutes to its school day to balance its collaboration time.

“We tried to make sure there was minimal impact (on the community),” he said. “We didn’t want to inconvenience parents or bus routes. We think the impact will be positive.”

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