As Santa Fe Public Schools weighs whether to extend its school year, the majority of the district’s teachers and staff say they’re unwilling to work additional days.

According to a survey shared by Superintendent Veronica García at a school board meeting Tuesday night, 66 percent of district staff are unwilling to work an additional 20 days. After the meeting, Elias Bernardino, the district’s chief data and analytics officer, said 55 percent of school staff said they would not be willing to work an additional five days.

Board President Kate Noble said the district can’t afford to lose teachers as it figures out how to navigate a statewide push for more classroom time.

“I think a lot of us see that a longer-year model is probably where we’re going as a state,” Noble said. “But we cannot exacerbate the teacher shortage by pushing people into doing things they don’t want to do or pushing them too hard so that we end up having teachers throw up their hands and say, ‘It’s not worth it anymore.’ “

Nearly 52 percent of 815 district employees who responded to the survey listed teacher and student burnout as the top challenge to extending the school year. For the second straight school year, the state Public Education Department will pay for school districts to implement K-5 Plus, a voluntary program for teachers and students that adds 20 to 25 days to the school calendar over the summer, and extended learning, which adds 10 days of class time anywhere in the school calendar.

At least 50 percent of staff at six schools said they would be willing to work an additional 20 days. García said the district will figure out which schools have the capacity to extend their school year before applying for additional funding from the Public Education Department in March. She added that some of the survey results were unexpected.

“We were surprised about the additional five days. There was not a lot of support for that,” García said. “We’re happy we know that. We didn’t want to create expectations in the community about extending the school year if our workforce didn’t want to do it.”

García also shared the district’s calendar for the 2020-21 school year. School starts Aug. 17 and ends May 26. A K-5 Plus program, which traditionally serves elementary schools but the district is hoping to expand to K-8 Plus, would begin July 6 and continue through July 31.

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(5) comments

Khal Spencer

More work for the same pay?

ART BLEA

A thorough analysis/study of how the current instructional days are being used should be done. Adding days to address the current dismal academic results without the aforementioned analysis/study seems unproductive, especially considering the additional cost that these additional days would incur. If you're a patient with a medical condition and the current medication isn't getting you better, would increasing the dosage be the solution?

Spencer Ralston

Increase teacher salaries. Teaching is one of the most important professions, yet teachers’ salaries are outrageously low. Where are our priorities?

Jerry Appel

Spoiler alert – I am about to retire from teaching in New Mexico. I don't get the surprise by administration. When you consider all the non-classroom hours teachers are already putting in then you realize the insanity of adding more classroom hours. When are these parents and caregivers supposed to find the time, energy, and emotional space to deal with their non-work lives? The truth is this, and this is the case for all states, it is a delusion that teachers only work from 8 to 3, or whatever the schedule happens to be. When you add in all the hours grading papers, talking to parents and students before and after classes, developing lessons, listening to webinars or other forms of professional development, taking classes for professional growth and advancement opportunities, and the dreaded paperwork demanded by clueless politicians and bureaucrats, the demands destroy longevity in this field; especially, when you compound them with all the disrespect and negative propaganda from corporations and political "leaders." Compounding the short-sighted attitude of this idea is the lack of attendance by students. Adding more classroom days does not solve the attendance issues. If you can fix the attendance issues then you can fix the learning issues because children don't learn what is taught in school if they are not attending.

Jerzay Peet

The 182-day school year was sufficient for decades. If you want to improve test scores, increase parental participation in the children's education, and improve attendance. Call this movement what it is: A desire amongst parents to have year-round daycare for their kids.

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