The Billings Catholic Schools board voted Wednesday to dismiss students early one day each month to allow more time for professional development for teachers and staff members.
In their regular meeting, board members voted unanimously to release students systemwide at 2 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month. The shortened school days will begin in January 2013.
“This will be an excellent opportunity for our teachers and administrators and their professional development,” said Harold Olson, the school system’s president. “The concept is crucial right now, and there is a lot of need.”
In past years, Olson said a day and a half each year has been devoted to professional development for staff members. It's not enough, he said.
“To me, professional development is a process that should be continuous rather than one event or workshop,” Olson said.
He said Billings Catholic Schools is the only system within the state’s diocese that doesn’t have early-out days for staff development.
Central High Principal Shel Hanser said teachers have been requesting the extra training.
“We have staff begging for this,” Hanser said. “We’ve thrown a lot on their plates in terms of technology in the last year. So this is coming directly from staff, and we need to support them.”
Hanser said the time would be used for structured training focused on topics such as technology in the classrooms and Common Core Standard training.
The board also voted to dissolve the Early Childhood Education task force that was focused on the consolidation of the ECE program and renovations of the new building across from St. Francis Primary.
Bruce Knudsen, ECE director, said the project is complete and the task force is no longer needed.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house will be held Nov. 11 for the completed building.