Idaho Falls starts late on Mondays

Principal Kris Smith wants to make it clear that teachers aren’t sleeping in now that the Idaho Falls School District has moved to late-start Mondays.

The Longfellow Elementary principal said school board trustees made the move effective this school year so teachers could analyze formative student data and team up in professional learning communities to help smooth out the implementation of new Idaho Core Standards.

“This is the first time the district has had common collaboration time,” Smith said. “The intent is to improve student learning, and the way we do that is by focusing on developing teacher capacity, because teachers are the lifeblood of schools.”

District officials and staffers like the move, which lines up with one of Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education’s recommendations.

Other districts have taken similar measures or gone to four-day weeks. The Coeur d’Alene School District starts late on Mondays.

Throughout the Idaho Falls district, school starts an hour later every Monday; 9 a.m. for elementary schools, 9:30 a.m. at secondary schools.

Elementary teachers break into grade level teams to review student achievement through data, such as end-of-unit assessments. Then they develop strategies to help improve student achievement – offering enrichment to students who are already ahead and helping struggling students catch back up.

At the secondary level it works much the same, accept teachers break into two different teams. With the emphasis on implementing new Idaho Core Standards, math teachers break into their own group while everyone else joins a literacy team.

Idaho Falls“Teachers are working on literacy across content levels as part of the Common Core literacy standards imbedded in all subjects,” district spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne said.

So far, feedback has been mostly positive, although bus schedules had to be reworked and extra time had to be added into the elementary schedule to meet instruction time guidelines.

Some parents have complained as well.

“(The policy) sucks because most people have to be at work at 8 a.m.,” Longfellow parent Ivy Grimae told the Post Register this month. “Single parents have only one income, and when you miss an hour … we lose money … and it really hurts.”

Smith said they have taken steps to accommodate children of families who are unable to wait for the delayed start.

“On the very first Monday we had 350 families here and about 340 got all the communication and messages, but few did show up (early),” Smith “Now only a couple of people bring their kids (at the normal time) and we provide time for them.”