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Mabton schools explore dropping early release days

MABTON - Citing a need for more instructional time, the Mabton School District is considering a move to cut early release from once a week to three times a year.

That's according to a recommendation provided to the Mabton School Board last night, Monday, by Superintendent Minerva Morales.

Morales made the recommendation after considering the results from a survey she conducted of district staff.

There hasn't been a significant improvement in student achievement with early release each Wednesday, Morales noted. She says the time would be better spent with students in the classroom.

"It's imperative that we increase teaching time," Morales said in evaluating the educational needs of Mabton students.

The proposed three early release days would be held at the beginning of the school year, the middle and at the end.

Each of the three days would coincide with the release of testing results to help teachers make the most of the extra time in addressing areas where students need help.

As for professional development time for teachers, Morales noted there are already 13 days built into the school schedule for staff development.

While school board member Jeanette Williams noted early release has been successful elsewhere, fellow board member Lupe Maldonado backed the idea of cutting back on early release.

The proposal also has the support of Mabton Junior/Senior High School Principal Jose Elizondo.

"It lost its purpose as to why early release is happening," Elizondo told the school board, noting student and teacher absentees increase on early release days.

"We have lost curriculum and contact time with kids," he added.

Morales said a shake-up in early release wouldn't take place until the 2013-14 school year and only after the proposal is further evaluated to make sure it has a good impact on student learning.

The bottom line, Morales adds, is more planning and focus are needed for Mabton's early release days - whether once a week or three times a year.

"It's all about purpose and clear expectations," she says.

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