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Rockwood to study use of academic time, possible policy change

After a request by district residents Larry and Eileen Tyrrell, whose daughter attends Eureka High, Rockwood’s Board of Education agreed on Aug. 7 to let staff study whether to create a new policy, or add to an existing one, in regard to proper use of instructional time.

The Tyrrells had told the district that maximizing academic time is critical to improving student achievement.

Eileen told the board during public comment on Aug. 7 that wasting class time on movies and games not directly related to the curriculum or exam preparation needs to be addressed by the district.

She pointed to an opinion piece written in May on Eureka High’s hub Web page by a 16-year-old student who protested watching movies – such as “Despicable Me,” “Up,” and “The Secret Life of Bees” – during class time, for three days before finals. The student called those days – which were make-up days due to the district’s earlier use of snow days – “non productive.”

“This is happening in class when students should be prepping for final exams,” Eileen said.

Karen Hargadine, the district’s assistant superintendent of learning and support services, told the board that some districts do control use of academic time but usually as part of another policy.

“It’s good to make clearer to teachers an idea of what our expectations are,” she said.

District Superintendent Eric Knost insisted he would never be in favor of “handcuffing” teachers’ autonomy.

“But I’m sure guidance would be appreciated by teachers,” he said.

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