At its monthly meeting, the School Governance Council (SGC) voted unanimously to discard the 6 early release days and in its place adopt 4 full release days. These 4 full release days will be implemented in the 2016-2017 school year.
Early release signifies a release after three block periods, which is around 1:30 PM. In contrast, a full release day means that students will not have to come to school at all on those days. Currently, teachers on early release days stay well after students are dismissed in long, meetings.
“These meetings are ineffective and take up much of my planning time,” said one new teacher to the school who wished to remain anonymous. This sentiment was largely echoed at the meeting by Kelly Olson, a social studies teacher who emphasized the need for additional planning time for teachers.
These four days will serve as time for professional development, planning, and STEAM exploration. North Springs, pursuant to its strategic plan which pushes for becoming a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) school, potentially plans to use this new time for “learning journeys” to other schools that have already pursued STEAM certification, including Drew Charter School and Gwinnett Tech.
Students have reacted positively to this additional time off from school. “That is awesome. Why couldn’t they have done this while I was still here,” questioned Senior Yarden Hayut.
Besides time for professional development, planning, and STEAM exploration, this was meant to align with feeder schools’ full release days. Public comment at the SGC meeting noted the need to be on the same schedule with those schools. North Springs plans to make a concerted effort to organize these days to be on the same days as its’ feeders. In the past, the feeders have had Fridays off before major holidays such as Thanksgiving and before breaks such as Spring Break.
The SGC is also working on implementing STEAM through a seed fund grant from Fulton County Schools. North Springs will be asking for a substantial amount of money (between 75,000 and 100,000) to hire a STEAM coordinator and fund the aforementioned learning journeys.
The SGC hopes that the seed fund is approved, and with it and additional time for teachers to plan and for STEAM planning, North Springs Charter High School becomes a STEAM certified school.