The Kokomo School Board has eliminated the half-days it had scheduled for students to be out of school during the 2009-10 school year, for teachers to participate in staff development activities.

Superintendent Christopher Himsel said the change was made to be in compliance with new rules laid down by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, that professional development days and parent/teacher conference days can no longer be counted as part of the 180 instructional days required for students each year.

Dave Barnes, public relations consultant for the Kokomo-Center School Corp., said school officials will work with the Kokomo Classroom Teachers Association leadership to find opportunities to “embed professional development” into the working day.

Bennett said last week that schools have found ways to offer professional development without having to add days to the teachers’ year or reducing the number of student days.

He said, for example, some schools extend their school day a bit beyond the number of minutes required, and use that extra time for staff development. He added that most schools already require more teacher days than student days and can use that time for professional development.

Himsel said parent-teacher conferences were already built in outside the 180 days required for students, and are not impacted. There will still be parent-teacher conferences.

The board also approved continuing a partnership with Indiana University Kokomo at Sycamore School, and agreed to allow teacher education students from the University of Phoenix campus in Indianapolis to participate in practicums and student teaching in the Kokomo-Center School Corp.

Himsel said he knows the university has a reputation for allowing all coursework to be done online, but said this program is an on-campus program, and he and school officials made sure the students will be properly prepared before the come into a school.

In other business

The board also approved granting a temporary right of way on the Jefferson Street side of Wallace School for the upcoming Dixon Road project. Eric Rody, director of business affairs, said city planners anticipate needing the right-of-way for two to four weeks, and will try to complete work during summer 2010, so it will not impact use by buses and parents. The city will pay $195 for the right-of-way, he said.

The board also approved temporary borrowing for about 30 to 45 days in June and July, until it receives property tax money, and approved roofing projects at Kokomo High School, Central Middle School, Washington Elementary and Boulevard Elementary, as well as renovations at Darrough Chapel and Pettit Park Elementary schools.

• Danielle Rush is the Kokomo Tribune education reporter. She can be reached at (765) 454-8585 or danielle.rush@kokomotribune.com.

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