Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

All Canyons District’s schools to dismiss early on Fridays to allow for teacher collaboration

May 29, 2022 12:29PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

With a 5-1 vote, Canyons Board of Education approved to have all Canyons School District’s elementary and secondary schools dismiss early on Fridays starting in fall 2022, allowing teachers to have time to collaborate.

It was not without many discussions and considerations, said Canyons Superintendent Rick Robins.

“We’re excited that this will give our teachers the opportunity to collaborate, not just amongst their peers in the building, but also with other colleagues who are teaching the same grade or subject as well as vertically with grade school or high school teachers working with the middle school teachers,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to improve student academic outcomes.”

The proposed times for early outs on Fridays in elementary schools are similar to existing pick-up times this school year with dismissals around 1:10 to 1:55 p.m.

Middle school students will no longer have a late start on Fridays beginning in August. The early out dismissal times on Fridays are estimated to be around 1 to 1:30 p.m.

High school students will be dismissed at about 12:55 p.m. on Fridays beginning in the fall. Alta High will discontinue its late start.

Robins said the district will finalize the times and share those with patrons.

Much discussion focused on determining the day and time of the collaboration during the third presentation to the board.

Student safety, busing availability, staffing at external day cares or availability of older siblings taking care of younger brothers and sisters, ability to have after-school activities or jobs, family time, research on late starts benefitting other students, school schedules, before-school and after-school programs, patron input, and other topics were discussed. 

“I appreciate the board seeing the value of allowing our teachers to have collaboration time and making that a priority. We looked at every consideration to see what has the least impact on students and families in providing our teachers this valuable time,” he said. “This is really a commitment to provide our educators embedded time for better student outcomes. They will really understand how and what our students need to learn and what’s best for them. This collaboration time has been proven over and over that it does improve instruction in the classroom.”

Robins also provided data to the board on the least missed days for elementary, middle and high school students as well as teachers on those levels. He said data also was reviewed for high school teachers who serve as coaches or advisers to teams and extracurricular activities as well as students who are involved in those.

“Those kids are out of school anyway often on Friday afternoons leaving for a game or a competition or performance, so this actually has less impact on them missing school,” he said. “And only about 3% of our faculty will be impacted.”

Even with early dismissals, students will receive more than the 990 required hours of education the state requires, Robins said, adding that currently that requirement is waived during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four principals, who talked to patrons as well as teachers in their schools, also addressed the board. They pushed for the board to make a decision so they could plan for the upcoming school year.

Midvale Middle School Principal Mindy Robison added that teacher collaboration time “matters because it changes the trajectory of the day for the students,” both with academics and behavior.

Sprucewood Elementary Principal Cathy Schino supported Friday afternoon collaboration time because it allows teachers not only the chance to collaborate, but also to reflect on student progress from the past week to prepare for the next week.

Copperview Principal Colleen Smith told the board the need for this collaboration time is critical.

“The workload of educators is unrecognizable in comparison to what was expected just a few years ago,” she said.

Brighton High Principal Tom Sherwood said this is the time to align all schools and offer this time for teachers to better their craft, especially as he has seen more time to collaborate has been needed at the high school level.

“In the changing educational environment we’ve all seen in the past couple years, collaboration has become more important than ever,” he said. “Things are changing faster than ever; technology is changing faster than ever. We really need something unified to help our teachers integrate all these changes to education. This combined time allows us to share their expertise, not just in our buildings, but throughout the district. Our teachers will thrive in this environment. We’re going to have more opportunities to have a culture of continuous improvement with results focused more on student learning and success.”