Parents will get face time with teachers in a Colorado district that had done away with conferences

Paris Elementary School teacher Elizabeth Rodriguez checks in with students on Aug. 28 2015. (Photo by Nic Garcia)

Teachers and parents in the Adams 14 school district will have designated days for conferences again starting next year.

The school board voted Tuesday on the 2018-19 school calendar and included four evenings for parent-teacher conferences each semester. The board voted without discussion.

This year, the district had done away with the practice, saying instead that parents could use a new website to monitor their students’ progress and to reach out to teachers. As a struggling district on a time crunch to show the state it is making improvement, officials said they needed to make the most of instructional time.

Parents in the district, where almost half of all students are learning English as a second language, were upset and concerned that they didn’t know how to use the website and couldn’t understand much of the information. They said the website wouldn’t replace face-to-face conversations.

District officials told parents if they wanted a meeting with a teacher, they could always request it. But teachers and union leaders said that put the responsibility of finding time on teachers and also meant they wouldn’t be paid for the time.

“I think it’s a positive move in the right direction,” said Jodi Connelly, one teacher who had spoken out against the changes. “It also is telling that the district listened to the response of the families. I am hopeful that it will be just the beginning of better communication and decision making between the district and community.”

District officials have made other unpopular decisions this year, like cutting recessand halting the rollout of biliteracy programs.

The overwhelmingly negative feedback was a factor in changing next year’s school calendar back to a more traditional model that will include parent-teacher conferences, officials said.

“We heard that it was something they find extremely helpful,” said Janelle Asmus, a spokeswoman for the district.

The compensation for teachers conducting evening conferences will be in the form of teacher compensation days – just as it had in the past, officials said.

The scheduled conference time will be in the evenings, without interrupting the regular school day. Students and teachers will get one full day off from school each semester — on a separate day — as compensation for teachers working those evenings.

See the full schedule here.

Originally published on Chalkbeat Colorado.
Photo by Nic Garcia, Chalkbeat Colorado