RHAM takes a different approach to increasing demands

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Mon., Jan. 21, 2013

At its Jan. 14 meeting, the RHAM Board of Education voted to implement 90-minute delays once per month through the 2013-14 school year, and possibly beyond. The move will allow for teachers to prepare for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation process. RHAM Superintendent of Schools Robert Siminski said that there was simply not enough time to complete the process via professional development days. With increasing demands upon districts passed down through state and federal requirements, the demand for professional development days continues to increase. With increased professional development days comes increased pressure on budgets, as substitutes must be hired to fill in for teachers.

Siminski could not be reached over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. But according to the NEASC website, “Accreditation is an on-going process of school improvement that occurs in 10-year cycles, with schools working throughout the 10-year cycle to address the Standards for Accreditation.” A school is required to prepare a self-study and host a visiting team every 10 years, and to “address the Standards through their school improvements efforts.” NEASC is “one of six private, non-profit regional accrediting associations that offer programs and services which monitor school performance and school improvement efforts,” according to the site. Accreditation by NEASC “indicates that the educational institution has conducted a self-evaluation of all of its programs and hosted a visiting committee to evaluate the institution in terms of its own stated educational goals and the seven Standards for Accreditation of the Commission on Public Secondary Schools.”

Siminski said that staff reports required to prepare for the accreditation process take a significant amount of time. The process is expected to take 18 months, meaning that the once-a-month delayed openings could persist beyond the 2013-14 school year.
The topic of delayed opening as a means of accommodating increasing demands for work beyond classroom instruction came up at a recent Hebron Board of Education meeting, as well. During public comments, PTA President Liz LaChapelle referred to the fact that teachers are spending an increasing amount of time outside of the classroom. LaChapelle suggested an approach taken recently in Glastonbury, having teachers meet in the morning with children arriving later. “I will take two less hours with their teacher to six hours with a substitute any day,” she said.

For more information regarding the NEASC and the accreditation process, go to https://cpss.neasc.org/about_accreditation/.

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