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Education advocates voice concern over potential changes to Austin ISD calendar

Changes to AISD's calendar include early release on Wednesdays, changes to block schedules and more days off for teachers, among other things.

AUSTIN, Texas — Leaders at Austin ISD are taking a closer look at the district's calendar. 

AISD District 2 Trustee Ofelia Maldonado Zapata said they're working diligently.

"It's about our student academic success," she said. "So, we stay focused on that. You know, we're going to have to take some risks and try things differently."

While the district is still ironing out the plans, the initial proposal gives all K-12 students one early release every Wednesday.

Education Austin President Ken Zarifis said this will give all teachers a 60-minute period to plan.

However, under this plan, middle and high school teachers would lose planning time.

"What that means for both secondary, middle and high school, and elementary is that secondary traditionally has had a second planning period on top of the state plan," said Zarifis. "This will eliminate that planning period. Elementary has never had a second plan period."


Zarifis said extra planning time leads to successful classrooms.

"The other issue here is the campuses that will be hurt the most by eliminating a planning period," added Zarifis. "Eastside schools have historically been underserved. If you begin to eliminate a planning period and then class options for students, they have less opportunity to accelerate to be able to get to graduate on time, which undermines their ability to be successful."

He stresses that he and Education Austin agree with one part of the plan but not the other.

"I want my elementary teachers to understand that Education Austin supports getting planning time for them," he said. "It's important to us. We just don't think that secondary teachers should lose planning time to do it."

Zarifis added, by getting rid of the planning period the district hopes to save $21 million.

The initial proposal also says teachers will get one extra day off each month to address teacher burnout in the district.

AISD said it is also looking at changing up the current block schedule.

A decision on the proposal will be made next week.


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