Elementary day schedule will be adjusted next year

Elementary school students will see some changes in their daily schedules next year as a result of increased planning time for teachers that has created opportunities for complementary learning programs.

In a report to the Tahoma School Board, Shadow Lake Elementary Principal Mike Hanson and Glacier Park Elementary Principal Shelly Gaston explained the work of a committee that looked at how to incorporate additional planning time for teachers while preserving and enhancing learning opportunities for students.

As part of a new negotiated labor agreement between teachers and the school district that was approved prior to the start of the school year, elementary school teachers will have 15 minutes more per day for planning, which gives them an average of 45 minutes of planning time per day. A committee of district teachers, administrators, building managers, specialists and School Board representatives recommended ways to provide programs and staffing to cover the additional planning time.

Among the recommendations are to preserve at least an average of 30 minutes a week for music, art, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and about 90 minutes a week for PE (60 minutes for kindergarten). Also recommended is the addition of a literacy or social/emotional learning specialist at each school in order to enhance learning opportunities in those areas. The specialist would work with students during teacher planning times.

Elementary principals, building managers, and the district Teaching and Learning Department will take the committee’s recommendations and begin crafting schedules and curriculum that can be used next year.

In other business at its March 26 meeting, the School Board:

Approved going ahead with renovation work at Shadow Lake Elementary School. The $2.6 million project will start when school is out June 20 and continue through the end of August. Kindergarten classrooms will be remodeled and the main office and library will swap spaces. A new main entrance will be added on the south part of the administration building and the parking lots will be reconfigured so that buses will load on the west end of the building instead of the south. Security improvements also will be made. Abbott Construction is the main contractor.

Accepted final completion of the new Lake Wilderness Elementary School. Forma Construction was the main contractor and TCF Architecture designed the school. The school opened in September 2017.