Williamson Co. school parents say releasing kids early creates logistic issues

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 6:59 PM CDT
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FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WSMV) - A plan to let Williamson County elementary school kids out early, 11 days out of the following school year, is unwelcome news for some parents

Early Release is new for the elementary level of The school district that has been doing late starts for middle and high school students.

Carol Birdsong with Williamson County schools said elementary school students will be released about 2 hours early on those 11 days in the 2022-2023 school year.

Courtney Tate, who will have three kids in the school district, said the early release news was not on the radar for elementary school kids.

“It kind of caught me by surprise,” said Courtney Tate, a parent with three kids in Williamson County Schools.

Tate will have two kids in elementary school next school year, and that’s how she felt about the news that her two kids will be out of school about two hours early, 11 days out of the next school year.

“It’s surprising on a couple fronts. One, it wasn’t the headline of the email. So you had to read a little bit to get to that,” Tate said. “The big deal is my job doesn’t get out early on those days. So just figuring out the logistics of picking up the kids at an earlier release time, where they got to stay, who is going to keep them,” she added.

The school district said the reason behind the new move is for teachers to help students better.

“That time will be spent with teachers collaborating, working together, looking at assessments. Looking at what states standard students are or are not meeting. They can break down the assessment for reach child and work together to make sure we are growing students,” said Carol Birdsong, Executive Director of Communications with Williamson County Schools.

To help parents who can’t pick their kids up early, the school district says kids can stay and be supervised and then dismissed at the regular time.

Tate said she understand why the school district is doing early dismissal but its just something else for parents to figure out next school year.

Tate also said says early dismissal is just one concern for her in the next school year. The other concern is insufficient staff for Williamson County Schools’ “School Age Child Care” (SACC) program.

“The kids are getting out at, let’s say, 4 pm, and if you need the sitter two hours a day, you could be looking at 50 dollars a day, 250 a week,”: said Tate.

SACC is a program the school district offers, but parents pay for it.

“Anyone in the service industry is well aware of staffing shortages, and we are experiencing those,” said Birdsong.

Tate has two Kids who are on the waitlist for the afternoon session of the SACC program. She is hoping they get into the program.

“With SACC, you’re able to know school ends at 3:45. My kids are going to SACC. They’re there till 6 o’clock. Now it’s going to be a kind of day of what if the sitter can’t come? What if a meeting pops up on my calendar that I can’t miss? What am I going to do then because the reality is the kids will still be ready to be picked up at 3:45,” Tate said.

“Bear with us. We hope that we can get staff in place to make sure that every child can participate in the SACC service we provide,” Birdsong said.

Birdsong said they have a few openings in the school district they are working to fill, which includes increasing pay for school staff which is expected to be approved by Williamson County commission next week.

“So if you know of someone, parents, you are our best word of mouth. Our best recruiters help us get the best people to work in Williamson County Schools,” Birdsong said.

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