Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Central Heights principals propose adding eighth class period to school day

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 1/22/2014

Central Heights school district may add another period to the high school and middle school schedules if the school board agrees with the changes.

Tom Horstick, high school principal, and Bud Welch, middle school principal, proposed the change to class scheduling Monday night at the monthly school board meeting at Central Heights High School, 3521 Ellis Road, Richmond. The board did not vote on the proposal yet, but were presented the idea of adding an eighth class period to the middle school and high school schedules.

Central Heights school district may add another period to the high school and middle school schedules if the school board agrees with the changes.

Tom Horstick, high school principal, and Bud Welch, middle school principal, proposed the change to class scheduling Monday night at the monthly school board meeting at Central Heights High School, 3521 Ellis Road, Richmond. The board did not vote on the proposal yet, but were presented the idea of adding an eighth class period to the middle school and high school schedules.

Creating the eighth class period would not affect the length of the school day, and school will begin and end at the same time. But the proposal would shorten class periods of the original seven classes from 51 minutes to 48 minutes, and the extra time would add up to a 43-minute eighth period. The eight-period school day was developed based on the class schedules other schools in the area have already implemented.

Welch said he plans to use the eighth class period as an enrichment class for sixth-graders, focusing on math and English. The seventh and eighth graders would use their extra period for either an athletic practice period or as an elective class. Horstick said the high school would use its extra period as a homework study hall and would allow athletes to not miss class when leaving school early for traveling purposes. The homework study class would allow students to work on homework before they actually went home, allowing teachers to be on hand to help them with the assignments. Horstick said the time could also be used for state testing periods and school assemblies.

“After researching it for two months, talking to people and putting it together, I’m telling you academically, I think this is a good schedule,” Welch said.

School board members, including Rick Pryor, asked several questions. Pryor’s concerns were the possibility of having to renegotiate teacher’s contracts because contracts were designed around a seven-period school day, as well as shortening classes for students who may be struggling and taking away face-to-face time for students and teachers.

“There’s a lot of good things to it, but there are a lot of bad things to it, less one-on-one teacher time,” Pryor said. “Anytime you give them less involvement time, it makes me wonder sometimes.”

Horstick said research shows that students only pay attention to lecturing from teachers for about 20 minutes, and shorter class periods would not affect the students’ learning abilities. James White, Central Heights superintendent, said the teacher contracts should not be affected by adding another class period.

Other concerns brought up by the school board were how the new schedule would affect the class periods used for athletics practices and what students who don’t need help with homework would do during study hall.

“My fear is that if there isn’t someone there to say, ‘Shut up and do your homework,’ they’re going to sit there and talk and then come home with homework,” Jack Davis, board vice president, said.

Welch said the athletic practice classes would be extended to about an hour and 40 minutes, but other than more practice time, student classes would not be affected.

Horstick and Welch said all teachers will have a class to teach during the extra period and showed board members a spreadsheet that explained what each teacher would do during the period. Welch also had spreadsheets explaining how other schools in the area used the eight-period school day. The board did not take any action on the proposal.

Other issues addressed during the board meeting included an update from Lonnie Shanks on the renovations to the roof, music room and locker room. Shanks said the contractor on the renovations has charged the school more than the original bid for the project. Superintendent White said the price problem was the risk the school took during a bidding process, and that it was not unusual for the cost to be more than the original bid.

After an executive session to discuss personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation of John Schultze, a shop teacher, who officially will resign at the end of the school year.

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