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updated: 1/10/2012 6:01 PM

District 300 to wait on middle school schedule changes

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Middle school schedules in Community Unit District 300 will remain unchanged for the 2012-2013 school year for financial and instructional reasons, administrators say.

Kara Vicente, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning at the middle school level, said changes to state requirements and the district's fiscal outlook would determine the appropriate timeline for schedule changes.

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"We are focused on critical core components that we want to have in a middle school schedule that we think will give us the best opportunity for our students to perform," Vicente said.

Those components include maintaining the current 80 to 90 minute literacy block and extending the math block from the current average of 45 minutes. Vicente also said the model would maintain built-in time for interventions, retaining social studies and science and reducing forced choices that require students to choose between an exploratory course or music, for example.

"Financially we know that probably any change that we recommend to the middle school schedule is going to result in a need for additional staff. So there is going to be a cost tied to that most likely," Vicente said. "We also know as a school district we have committed resources this year to ensure we have a good implementation of an eight-period high school schedule next year."

District officials haven't specified how they envision the schedule changing for middle schoolers, though.

Furthermore, Vicente said, there are going to be math changes over the next couple of years that will affect math course sequencing for prekindergarten through eighth grade. Changes are expected from the state in the coming months and the adoption of the Common Core standards in the 2014-2015 school year is expected to increase the number of students considered college-ready in algebra by eighth grade.

"We are looking for the best possible schedule that we can give our students," Vicente said.

Last fall, District 300 approved an eight-period schedule at the high school level, which will take effect in the 2013-2013 school year.

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