EDUCATION

Fairfax County Public Schools to consider calendar changes, eliminating early dismissal Mondays

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(NewsChannel 8) - Fairfax County elementary schools have a case of the Mondays.

Students have early dismissal on the first day of the week, but the school system is looking to change that.

"You just go home, relax, eat," said Union Mill Elementary School student Isabella Solano, who described her Monday routine. The final bell rings 2.5 hours earlier than other days.

The schedule has been in place since the 1970s to give elementary school teachers time to plan their lessons.

"There are people who are parents now who have their children in, who they themselves had the half-day Mondays," said Fairfax County School Board Member Elizabeth Schultz.

Some parents and school officials want to make the minutes count, by introducing a full day of classes.

"I think for their education it's a good idea," said FCPS parent Jennifer Zurkus.

"Fairfax is the only one that does this, and I think it's time for a new set of solutions to a very old problem," said Schultz.

Part of the solution includes six hours of instruction, five days a week, and built-in teacher planning time.

"It would resolve the issue of snow days, to a master calendar year... teacher workload, and student achievement," said Schultz.

"It would be nice to have that consistency every day for them to get out at the same time," said FCPS parent Jessica Solano.

Union Mill Elementary School parent Brian Colella said it's become a challenge to meet childcare needs among two working parents.

"It's tough to juggle that, because one day out of the week is going to be different than the others," said Colella.

A work group led by the interim deputy superintendent looked at scheduling for all grade levels, and there's a big price tag that may come with change-- between $4-$7 million.

School officials say decisions will need to be made this month in order for the switch to happen by September.

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