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Grand Forks high schools will have shorter day once a month for teacher learning

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Grand Forks high school classes will start later once a month next year to give teachers some time for professional development, according to staff at a School Board meeting Monday.

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Classes will start one hour late on the second Wednesday of each month to allow for teacher collaboration and learning groups called Professional Learning Communities. All classes will still meet on that day but each be shortened by 10 minutes, which equals 90 minutes per class over the course of the year, according to district staff.

The district’s three high schools — Red River, Central and Community — will start the new schedule next year and may add more hours later depending on feedback, said Terry Brenner, the district’s director of curriculum, assessment and professional development.

Red River and Central teachers said the extra time would allow them to plan more, discuss common problems, focus on the needs of all students — including the ones who don’t plan a postsecondary education — and learn from each other.

“We have many amazing teachers throughout the district, and to be able to learn from one another is something we really want,” said Central High School teacher Bridget Ryberg.

Teachers can also focus on areas such as the Common Core Standards, which aim to help students become better prepared for college and the workplace, and improving ACT scores. Research has shown scores improve with Professional Learning Communities in place, said district staff.

The proposal did not require School Board action, but many members said they supported it. The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction allows districts the discretion of adjusting their instructional time by a certain amount of minutes, said Superintendent Larry Nybladh.

“It’s a system that works for the teachers and the community, and I really appreciate the effort put forth,” he said.

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Jennifer Johnson
Jennifer Johnson is the K-12 education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald.  Contact her if you have any story ideas or tips and visit www.grandforksherald.com. 
(701) 787-6736
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