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Friday, June 27, 2014

FCPS eliminates half-day Mondays

Parents who’ve juggling childcare and work schedules to pick up their elementary-age children on early Mondays will have it a bit easier next year. The Fairfax County School Board voted June 26 to end the practice of Monday early dismissal. Keeping students in class all day on Mondays would allow for more instructional time plus 20 minutes of recess every day.

The new plan is part of a new master schedule adopted by the board June 26 that also addresses the problem of having to have excessive make-up days due to snowy winters, like this one we had this year.

According to survey results by Fairfax County Public Schools, 85 percent of parents who responded to a phone survey and 80 percent who responded to an online survey support getting rid of early dismissal on Mondays. Ninety-four percent of parents in the online survey and 83 percent in the phone survey want the change to take effect in September 2014.

Elementary teachers mostly preferred the current schedule: 48 percent opposed making Monday a full instructional day, while 34 percent supported the change.

FCPS will convene focus groups of teachers—including special education, music, and fine arts teachers—counselors, librarians, parents, and elementary school principals to provide input into the design of regulations on the new school schedules.

A cadre of  “elementary principal master schedule leaders by region” will be set up to work with other elementary principals over the summer on the design of master schedules for all elementary schools. Once the principals have completed the design of their new schedule, they are supposed to convene a meeting of parents to let them know about the changes before the start of school.

Under the current early-Monday schedule, FCPS does not meet the 990-hour requirement in state law, which meant the school system had to make up three instructional days beyond the advertised last day of school this year so FCPS could meet its 180-day requirement.

That meant students were expected to be in class through Wednesday morning of last week, with very little learning going on and families’ vacation plans disrupted. Having a uniform elementary school day five days a week will prevent FCPS from having to make up days if there are fewer than 13 inclement-weather days.

The new schedule will also allow for a full two-week winter break and more teacher planning days throughout the year. Elementary teachers will have at least one hour of self-directed planning time four times a week and at least one hour a week for collaborative team planning. Additional staff, including world language teachers and other instructional specialists, will be hired to accommodate the additional planning time for teachers.

There will be no changes in music, art, or physical education.

The proposed schedule change is expected to cost $7.6 million. “This is difficult in these tight economic times, but we believe that this is an important investment in our students and our teachers,” the school board states. “As such, a growing number of county supervisors have expressed that they will provide us financial support for this important change. They have some monies available that were not budgeted due to unanticipated revenues from law enforcement activities. “


  1. My main issue with this is the School Board has added 70 extra hours then our necessary onto the school calendar. Can they not move the calendar so the kids get out at the very least June 12th versus June 19th? After SOL not much learning happens.

  2. How about just eliminating the SOL! Waste of time and MONEY!

  3. I agree with elimating the SOLs.