Early release gets support



Most people who attended yesterday's Mark Twain Union Elementary School District meeting voiced support for adding minimum days to the school calendar.

The district is considering early release on Mondays for Copperopolis and Mark Twain elementary schools students. If approved, the schedule would mean kids would get out of school early at least one day per week next school year, and perhaps for the last quarter of this year.

Many of the 20 or so people who attended yesterday's school district meeting at the Copperopolis campus were there to discuss the proposal.

A minimum day cuts about two hours from class time. It's necessary, school officials said, to give teachers more time to prepare the lessons for their classes.

Most people in the audience and on the school board spoke in favor of the plan, which could come up for a vote at the board's next meeting, scheduled for March 13.

"These teachers need that time," said Lynn Sneed, who volunteers to help in the fourth grade and resource classrooms.

However, one person in the audience wasn't convinced.

Angels Camp resident Mike Ziehlke, who has a daughter in first grade at Mark Twain Union Elementary School, said teachers should either work longer days or more days of the year before taking class time from students.

Ziehlke said he already spends an hour each day with his daughter on homework. Any less class time, he said, would mean more work for parents.

"My kids belong in the classroom, not in day care," Ziehlke said.

"We continue to pay more and more in teacher salaries, and they do less and less."

District Board Chairman Jennifer Eltringham told Ziehlke that only the state has the power to change a teacher's working hours.

Classroom volunteer Sneed said teachers put in more hours than some people realize.

"I don't know a teacher who leaves at 3 (p.m.)," Sneed said.

Copperopolis Elementary School Principal Julia Tidball assured the audience that the freed-up two hours would be used as work time, not as "de-stress, relax time."

The Union Democrat
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