One of my favorite features on ESPN is entitled "Fact or Fiction." This segment features the commentator asking someone about the effects of a rule change, a player trade, etc. on a professional sport. The featured guest will then respond either Fact or Fiction and clarify his/her response. I am going to use that same format to clarify a change that will take place next year at Crosby-Ironton High School.
Statement: A six period schedule is going to be utilized next year solely to keep students from being in study hall.
Fiction: We are trying to maximize the teaching time of the seven elective teachers we have left after six years of budget cuts. When I was hired six years ago to be a principal, there were 44.5 classroom teachers on our 7-12 campus. Next year, we will only have 29.5 classroom teachers available. Students in grades 9-12 will have to take a class in almost every one of the six periods each semester every year to stay on track for graduation. At most, a student could be in one study hall during one semester each year. Students need to be actively engaged in a class while at school, not sitting in a study hall. There are only a finite number of elective opportunities available to our students. I feel the best way to maximize these limited offerings is to compact them into six periods and not spread them over seven.
The Crosby-Ironton School Board recently voted to change the high school students' school day from seven to six periods. This picture of a new classroom at the seventh-through-12th-grade school was taken shortly after construction was completed. Brainerd Dispatch /Steve Kohls
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Statement: The teachers must have "cooked up" this idea to try to get out of work.
Fiction: Administration came to the teachers with this proposal. Teachers will not be on a shorter day. The teachers' contracted day will remain the same (see above). Besides this contracted time, all teachers work way beyond those time constraints correcting assignments and assessments, preparing materials for class, etc. Minnesota state law mandates that the teachers have their prep period within the student contact day. Teaching staff have agreed to try having their prep period outside of the student contact day for one year to see if this arrangement benefits the students and the school. Most educators are excited about the possibilities this common prep time will accommodate. Teachers will not have to work in isolation and will be able to collaborate during this common prep time on curriculum, grade level and department issues, individual student needs, etc.
Statement: Many high schools in our area have less than a seven-period schedule.
Fact: Brainerd and Little Falls both have a six period schedule for their high school students. Pequot Lakes has a five period schedule this year and they are moving to a six period schedule next year. Aitkin has a seven period schedule, but most students take their lunch break during one of the periods in effect making it a six period schedule.
The C-I High School day
- Prior to 2008-09: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- 2008-09 school year: 8:30 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.
TEACHER CONTRACTED DAY
- Prior to 2008-09: 8 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.
- 2008-09 school year: 8 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.
TEACHER PREP PERIOD
- Prior to 2008-09: Any of the seven periods.
- 2008-09: 2:50 to 3:40 p.m.
Statement: The earlier release time at the high school will have an effect on the bus schedule.
Fact: Students will be picked up at the high school first and then go to the elementary school to pick up those students. Some high school students will be dropped off at their homes along the way to the elementary school. Elementary students will be released at the same time as always ( about 3:10) and will board the buses then. Students riding the bus may be home approximately a half hour earlier next year.
Statement: Students won't be able to take both band and choir nor will they be able to take seven classes like they used to do.
Fiction: Students will be able to take both band and choir because the schedule will be built to "dove tail" these classes so they meet the same hour. Students interested in both music classes will be scheduled alternate days in the two classes so they can participate in both. Students (or parents who want their child to take more than six classes each semester) can meet with the counselor to make arrangements to increase their load through alternative courses available.
Statement: Concurrent college courses and high interest electives are still available on the Crosby-Ironton campus.
Fact: Juniors and seniors on the C-I campus will have over 60 college credits available to them next year in the areas of business, English, industrial technology, math, science and social studies. Students in grades 9-12 can select electives/(number of courses offered) in the following areas: band/(two), choir/(three), art/(six), business/(eight), family and consumer science/(five), foreign language /(two), communications tech. /(five), auto tech/(four), carpentry tech/(three) and metal tech/(three).
Statement: Students involved in sports will be affected by this change in schedule.
Fact: Students involved in extra curricular activities will not have to leave school early as often for out-of-town contests which will keep student athletes in class with their teachers. Similarly, teachers who coach will not have to be out of their classrooms as often so they can teach the students instead of leaving them with a substitute. Practices will be able to start and end sooner allowing student athletes to spend more time at home with their families and more time to finish homework, prepare for tests, etc.
Statement: If my child is not in sports there won't be anything for them to do at the high school between 2:35 and 3:30 p.m.
Fiction: The current plan is to have the following areas open and supervised for student use between 2:35 and 3:30 p.m.: high school media center, computer lab, academic support center, gymnasium and weight room.
Statement: Parents and/or community members never had an opportunity to provide input about a schedule change or change in the school day at C-I.
Fiction: The school district had multiple listening sessions last spring when changes in the schedule or school day were topics of discussion. Last fall before the operating levy vote, the superintendent and school board outlined changes that may occur if the referendum question(s) failed. In light of some of those horrific possibilities, this change in schedule and school day doesn't look so bad. In fact many people are excited about trying something new. This year's sophomores and juniors (next year's juniors and seniors) completed a survey that indicated how they overwhelming supported the idea of changing the school day to make it shorter and encompass six periods. They view this change as being a positive change that would keep students on our campus and possibly attract students to our campus.
Schools are a business. All businesses are changing to be their best and to out do their competition. In this day of open enrollment, off-campus Post Secondary Enrollment Options, Out-of-district on-line academies, etc., schools are in competition for students. I feel the benefits of the six period schedule and shorter school day for students outweigh any concerns people may initially have about it. I also feel this change will not only allow Crosby-Ironton High School to survive, but thrive in these times of budget constraints in the business of educating our children.
JIM CHRISTENSON is the principal for grades 7-12 for the Crosby-Ironton School District.
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