This year, in response to feedback from our staff, we began four major initiatives to make our work more sustainable for our teachers and leaders.
1. CHILD CARE CREDIT
Childcare costs are soaring, and they are an enormous burden on families.
That’s why we now offer our staff the opportunity to enroll in a dependent care Flexible Spending Account, and we committed to match any pre-tax contributions up to $5,000. This means staff can receive up to $10,000 towards child care each year.
2. SHORTER SCHOOL DAY
We’ve shaved 65 minutes off of our school day, for a total of 198 fewer hours over the course of the year. The RePublic school day was traditionally 7:30am to 4:30pm for scholars. This year, we shortened the school day to 7:45am to 3:45pm for scholars, and 7:15am - 4:00pm for our staff. This change gives our teachers and leaders additional time each day to accomplish personal and professional tasks. This change also enables teachers to schedule appointments without taking vacation time and access more childcare centers.
3. CENTRALIZED CURRICULUM
In the past, RePublic teachers spent a significant number of hours each week writing their own curriculum from scratch. We realized we could save teachers’ time and improve the quality of our materials by centralizing our curriculum.
We spent last year building an Academics Team in our Network HQ. This team writes curriculum and assessments for each of our middle school English, Math, History, and Computer Science courses. They also support teachers and kids in the classroom.
Our teachers report that our centralized curriculum has saved them a substantial number of hours each week outside of the academic day.
4. ASSOCIATE TEACHERS
We hired seven Associate Teachers, who support our Lead Teachers in the classroom.
Associate Teachers have reduced the burden on our Lead Teachers. They are able to fill gaps in staffing — including short-term absences and long-term vacancies — which protects the planning and preparation time of our Lead Teachers.
An ideal Associate Teacher is someone who is working towards their certification, or is otherwise not ready to take on full time teaching responsibilities. They serve in-residence at Liberty Collegiate and are mentored by our Senior Teachers and Leaders. Over time, they earn certification and take on full-time teaching responsibilities.
Our kids deserve teachers and leaders who commit to them for the long term. These four initiatives, though just a start, are a significant step in that direction.