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Calgary Catholic schools to start hours later one day per week


Parents with children in the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) will have to re-adjust their schedules next school year, as the district launches a pilot project of new calendar which will have students starting hours later one day a week.

In an email sent to staff on Wednesday explaining the change, CCSD chief Superintendent Bryan Szumlas referred  Alberta Education’s Assurance Report regarding the Calgary Catholic School District which shows that teachers, particularly in high school, want change when it comes to professional growth.

“To address this challenge the Calgary Catholic District will be moving forward with a late entry pilot project for the 2024-2025 calendar year. “wrote Szumlas “This means that either on Mondays or Wednesdays (day to be determined), students would start school between 11 a.m. and noon. (Times will vary depending upon bell and transportation) so that teachers could engage in meaningful professional growth activities on the designated morning."

Students will still be expected to put in the same number of classroom hours each week. That will mean that in the remaining four days the school day will be longer, "so that could mean that the students are starting school maybe 20 minutes earlier, combined with leaving school 20 minutes later.” said Szumlas.

 ATA Local 55, which represents CCSD teachers, says it has been lobbying for more professional development time but says it was not consulted on the calendar change.

Local 55 president Allison McCaffery said she has been hearing from members who are very unhappy with the change, especially those who are also parents of children in the system.

"They are concerned to the point that some have even said that it is very concerning for the future for them to support their students coming into the schools,” said McCaffery, "or them to be teachers within the school."


The change in start time means many families will be left scrambling to find care for their children for three or four hours or show up later for work.on the mornings teachers are in professional growth sessions.

By contrast, the Calgary Public School system professional growth sessions are often scheduled for Friday afternoons.

“I'm pretty sure most parents are going to be completely shocked by it.  In the public system on a Friday afternoon, you can kind of accommodate for that. Leave early on a Friday. It's sort of something that people just do," said Melissa Ramkissoon, who has three children in Catholic school.

“In the workforce -in the workplace. ‘Hey, I'm not going to come in until 11:30 on Wednesday morning.’ That's not really going to fly.”

Information about the impending change was sent to school staff Wednesday and will be posted on the Catholic school board’s website Friday.

An online consultation process will run from December 1st through 11th. The finalized calendar for next school year will be posted in January 2024.

Below is the text of an email that was sent to school staff Wednesday.


The Challenge: Teaching is Growing More Complex

In today’s world teachers are faced with many challenges such as dealing with increased student complexities, new curriculum implementation and changing technologies. As a result, we are seeing a greater number of teachers going on leave due to increased demands and stresses or leaving the profession altogether. Furthermore, Alberta Education’s Assurance Report regarding the Calgary Catholic School District shows that teachers, particularly in high school are wanting a change when it comes to professional growth. See the data below:

The problem is finding time to professionally develop teachers so that they can learn effective teaching practices while also finding time for students and their wellness.  

From the students’ perspective, they too, are living a complex world with many pressures and stresses. When it comes to wellness, we are seeing more and more students reporting that they have sleep difficulties: 58 per cent of 29,657 students surveyed said that they have a hard time sleeping at night or want to sleep during the day.

So, we see both students and staff need a change. We must be audacious and try something new, with our district’s calendar, for the betterment of students and staff in Calgary Catholic.

Solution: Late Entry Pilot Project (2024-2025)

To address this challenge the Calgary Catholic District will be moving forward with a late entry pilot project for the 2024-2025 calendar year. This means that either on Mondays or Wednesdays (day to be determined), students would start school between 11 a.m. and noon (Times will vary depending upon bell and transportation) so that teachers could engage in meaningful professional growth activities on the designated morning. The chosen days, either Mondays or Wednesdays will be based upon feedback received and school staff would be expected to be at work engaging in meaningful activities.

It is important to note, that the total number of instructional hours will not change as time is mandated by Alberta Education (Kindergarten – 475 Hours; Gr. 1-9 – 950 hours; high School 1000 Hours). School days will be lengthened and/or lunch shortened to make up the time. Exact times will be determined by administrators, on a school-by-school basis.

It is important to note that many other school districts have been using time within the week for professional growth. As examples, CBE and Christ the Redeemer School districts use Friday afternoons. Edmonton Catholic uses Thursday afternoons.

A few additional points. First, all CCSD schools will participate. High Schools, junior highs schools (i.e. Bishop Kidd and St. Michael) and special education teachers who have had afternoon dismissals for targeted professional growth will transition to the late entry pilot schedule.

Secondly, this pilot is also linked to our wellness priority in that it will give students a day to acquire extra sleep for their developing minds. Thirdly, the overall number of PG days will decrease. Fourthly, the morning kindergarten program will move to four longer days. PM kindergarten will consist of five shorter days. Both programs would have the designated number of government hours.

CCSD understands that moving in this direction may create challenges for some families with young children. Be assured that the district will continue to work with before and after school providers so that care (at the cost of parents) can be offered during the designated mornings. We appreciate all parents for embracing this significant change.

Global Models of Success: Integrating Teacher Professional Growth into School Weeks

Numerous high-performing countries globally have positioned teacher professional growth at the core of their education strategies, embedding it into the regular school week. Notable examples include:

  1. Finland: Finland, celebrated for its stellar education system, dedicates school week time to collaborative planning and professional learning communities, fostering a culture of innovation and shared expertise.
  2. Singapore: Renowned for excellence in mathematics and science, Singapore allots specific time during the school week for teacher collaboration, lesson studies, and curriculum growth workshops.
  3. Australia: Australia recognizes the significance of continuous teacher learning, incorporating professional growth into the school week through sessions, mentoring, and collaborative planning, fostering shared expertise.

These global examples underscore the positive correlation between integrating teacher professional growth into the school week and overall educational success. By prioritizing ongoing professional growth, these countries have elevated teaching quality and equipped students for the demands of the 21st century.

The Crucial Role of Teacher Professional Growth in Enhancing Education

Here are some benefits of incorporating teacher professional growth during the school week:

  1. Enhanced Pedagogical Practices: Professional growth provides educators with opportunities to explore innovative teaching methods, instructional technologies, and evolving educational theories. Through workshops and collaborative sessions, teachers can refine their pedagogical skills, ensuring a more engaging and effective learning experience for students.
  2. Curriculum Alignment and Integration: As education continually evolves, staying abreast of changes in curriculum and educational standards is crucial. Professional growth allows teachers to align their instructional strategies with the latest curriculum requirements, ensuring that classroom practices are in sync with educational objectives.
  3. Technology Integration: In the digital age, the integration of technology in education is non-negotiable. Teacher professional growth provides a platform for educators to explore and integrate technology tools that enhance teaching and learning experiences. This not only prepares students for the future but also keeps education relevant and engaging.
  4. Data-Driven Decision Making: Professional growth emphasizes the importance of data analysis in education. Teachers learn to interpret student performance data, allowing them to make informed decisions about instructional strategies and interventions. This data-driven approach helps optimize teaching methods and facilitates continuous improvement in student outcomes.
  5. Collaborative Learning Communities: Professional growth sessions foster a sense of community among teachers. Collaborative learning experiences enable educators to share best practices, exchange ideas, and collectively address challenges. This sense of camaraderie contributes to a positive and supportive school culture.
  6. Career Satisfaction and Retention: Investing in teacher professional growth demonstrates a commitment to the growth and well-being of educators. As teachers gain new skills and perspectives, they often experience increased job satisfaction. This, in turn, contributes to higher retention rates, ensuring a stable and experienced teaching staff.

Next Steps:

Please give your feedback through the thought exchange that will be released on December 1-11. There will be two thought exchanges, one for parents/guardians and the other for staff. The Calendar Committee will consider the feedback as they finalize the 2024-2025 calendar. The 2024-2025 district calendar will be shared with the larger community and posted on the internet in January 2024.

The district will develop a more extensive Q&A document after feedback is received. Top Stories

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