Early Release Wednesdays for 2012-13

School Town of Highland Announces Early Release Wednesdays

for the 2012-2013 School Year


            On March 17, 2009, the Indiana Department of Education notified school districts that it would no longer grant up to six (6) half-day waivers to schools for professional development.  The School Town of Highland had used this time for teachers across the district to collaborate on curriculum and instruction, to review school improvement plans, to analyze and use data to increase student achievement.  During the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, it was a strain on limited resources to continue these initiatives and maintain the strides made.  In order to regain this professional development and collaboration time, the School Town of Highland has introduced Early Release Wednesdays into its 2011-12 calendar.  Early release Wednesdays will continue for the 2012-'13 school year.

The School Town of Highland is one of a number of districts in Lake County and statewide that have announced similar programs.  Research studies show that student learning and achievement increase when educators engage in effective professional development focused on the skills educators need in order to address students’ major learning challenges.  At a time when teachers and administrators are being held to increasingly higher levels of accountability, we cannot afford to eliminate collaboration, professional growth and development training, or school improvement discussion times.  Highland’s Early Release Wednesday schedule will provide this necessary time and reduce the time teachers are out of their classrooms because of professional development activities.

            The extra time will be used for teachers to collaborate on ways to increase student learning and for professional development during which teachers and the corporation can hold focused work sessions on technology, curriculum development, data analysis to guide instruction, and effective classroom instructional strategies.

            All Highland schools currently have longer school days than that mandated by the Indiana Department of Education. Therefore, the district can use the extra time for professional/district growth while still being compliant with the state’s time requirement.  And, because the time is scheduled as part of the school day, there is no cost (i.e., substitutes or stipends) to the district.  Currently, to provide substitutes to cover one day of training for all K-5 teachers equates to about $4,000 – and that doesn’t include the middle and high school teachers.  This pull-out of the classroom training also deprives students of their licensed and experienced teacher for one day.  Early Release Wednesdays could eliminate the need for this type of professional development.

            The current release time and the Early Release Wednesday release times for all buildings are shown in the table below.


Grade Levels

Current Release Time

Early Release Wednesday Release Time

Professional Growth Time




1 hr. 50 minutes


Middle School



55 minutes


High School



1 hr. 15 minutes




The district plans to make its Dependent Care After-School Program available for an hourly fee on Wednesdays to those K-5 parents that might need it.