PARKERSBURG - Wood County Schools students will have a late start today, but for area teachers it will be a morning of planning and data crunching.
The district will hold the first of four planned two-hour delays intended to give more than 1,200 teachers and administrators a chance to meet and plan for better classroom instruction.
The board of education in October approved delays to the start of school for today, Jan. 30, March 6 and May 1.
In an email Tuesday, Judy Johnson, director of curriculum and instruction, said teachers will adhere to a specific format during today's collaborative time. Collaborative teams will be required to complete and submit forms on the work they've done and county administrators will be visiting schools and reviewing progress during the delays, she said.
"The purpose of this is to focus on student needs, improve instruction and impact achievement," Johnson said. "This will permit teachers to periodically review and adjust instruction according to student needs."
Officials have said the district opted to use the delay days to avoid losing an instructional day and also to not add days to teacher contracts, which would require additional pay.
"Wood County has more instructional minutes each day than the state requires," Johnson said. "This amounts to 17 days of accrued instructional time for elementary and seven days for (middle and) high schools."
Johnson also noted Marshall County Schools holds a one-hour delay every Wednesday during the school year to allow for teacher collaboration.
Wood County Schools' planned delay days have not proven popular with parents, many of whom have taken to social media voicing their anger over the move. District officials said they also have received calls from parents upset over the delays.
Parkersburg resident Jill Oliver, who has two children in Wood County schools, said though the delay doesn't inconvenience her directly, she has heard a lot of grumbles from other parents.
"Some of them are still unsure what they are going to be doing with their children on these days," she said. "Most people I've talked to would rather see a two-hour early dismissal so the kids could go to day care after school."
Oliver also said she was unhappy with the timing of the decision.
"I didn't know about it until my daughter brought home a revised schedule," she said. "I think it should have been decided before the school year started if they were going to do it. People should have been made more aware this might happen."
Williamstown parent Becky Sinnett said she was upset with the district's decision. Sinnett said the move inconveniences parents and goes against Wood County Schools' pledge to maximize instruction time for students.
"The teachers didn't even ask for this time, only a time for collaboration," she said. "When is Wood County Schools going to collaborate with me and all other working parents to see how this two-hour delay fits our schedules?"