Teachers seek more time for planning; Hundreds of them pack hearing on school budget


Using a strength-in-numbers strategy, more than 350 Carroll County elementary teachers packed a school budget hearing last night in their continuing fight for planning time.

The issue has been a rallying point for teachers since the county Board of Education decided two months ago to eliminate built-in time for lesson planning from next year's school calendar.

Superintendent William H. Hyde announced last night that the county schools staff has prepared another proposed calendar that attempts to address the planning-time issue. It includes four days when schools would dismiss students early to give teachers 11 hours of planning time.

The board will vote on next year's calendar at its meeting tomorrow.

"We need quality planning time, not just 30 minutes here or there, but a length of time when we can collaborate to do the best we possibly can for our students," said Cindy Cummings, vice president of the Carroll County Education Association and a teacher at Taneytown Elementary.

The debate over the planning-time issue has highlighted the increased expectations of elementary teachers.

Preparing students for state academic performance tests and the mainstreaming of special education students requires teachers to devote more of their time to planning lessons.

Doug Blackiston, a teacher at Hampstead Elementary, said last night that if each elementary teacher spent two hours each day to keep up with the workload, it would amount to 50 days of overtime. Blackiston said that two hours is a conservative estimate of the time teachers work outside the school day.

"We have 50 unpaid overtime days a year," he said. "What a bargain."

Blackiston said placing two-hour blocks of time on the calendar is not a solution to teachers' planning needs. "Two hours here and there on a bimonthly basis is a short-term solution," he said. "It doesn't compensate for the lack of daily planning time. You haven't developed a vision for long-term relief."

Hyde acknowledged that the need for planning time is critical and said school administrators are working with principals and teachers to provide that time.

Pub Date: 2/09/99

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