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Uncertainty surrounds NKSD's Professional Learning Communities

POULSBO — North Kitsap and Kingston high school parents still have reservations about the new bell schedules being implemented at the high schools this fall.

“I’m opposed to the way in which this issue came about. These were imposed,” NKHS parent Jessica Breitbarth said. “Sometimes administrators get excited about something and they forget to be objective.”

NKSD administrators heard many questions and concerns Aug. 6 when parents and teachers packed the district’s board room for an informational meeting. Now, two more public meetings are planned and the district has set up an email account where community members can send questions. District officials say the schedules are set, but there is room for some alteration in the ways in which the students’ time will be used.

“The schedules will stay the same, but the way we’re meeting the kids’ needs through the tutorials may change a bit,” said Shawn Woodward, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for the NKSD.

The new schedules set aside time each week for teachers to collaborate in what are called Professional Learning Communities (PLC), and for students in need of additional instruction to receive it in tutorial sessions.

Originally, parents were concerned that by setting aside time for PLCs and tutorials some students would not receive the 150 hours of class time per subject required to earn credit. Principals Kathy Prasch, of NKHS, and Christy Cole, of Kingston High, have since retooled their schedules to meet the 150-hour requirements. But parents have taken issue with other aspects of the district’s plan, including that the new schedules were not unveiled until the middle of the summer.

District Superintendent Rick Jones apologized to parents at the Aug. 6 meeting for not informing them of the schedule changes earlier in the decision-making process.

Parents were concerned the PLC plan had not received enough discussion and attention from the community. Jones, Woodward and a group of teachers assured parents that even though the changes appear to be new, administrators have been working for months to hammer out the details of the plan, and have not simply thrown something together without thinking it through.

“We have a fairly clear idea, but there are a few specifics the teachers need to put the final touches on,” Prasch said. “I think we will be tweaking as we go along.”

Some parents, though, would like to see the district delay the new schedule’s implementation to allow further community input and changes to develop in the meantime.

Another area of uncertainty school board member Ed Strickland mentioned at the Aug. 6 meeting was evaluating students and to show they are learning more effectively than they had prior to the new schedule’s implementation.

“I think your second bullet requires you show us something that we can see,” Strickland told district administrators.

Additional concerns and questions will be addressed by the district in meetings from 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 25 and Sept. 2, at the NKSD administrative offices at 18360 Caldart Ave. in Poulsbo. Questions may also be emailed to PLCQuestions@nkschools.org. The district plans to post a list of frequently asked questions and answers on its Web site, www.nkschools.org, in the coming weeks.

“I know there’s a lot of fear and anxiety out there about PLCs, but we do care about our kids and want them to do well,” Prasch said. “We would like to be able to try something that we think will help all kids.”

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