Reorganization ideas emerge in Dist. 300

The latest options for restructuring schedules at the secondary level in Community Unit District 300 would maintain some of the programs eliminated in middle school under the first proposal and would afford high school students more classroom time compared to the first option.

Assistant Superintendents for Teaching and Learning at middle and high schools on Wednesday submitted the final proposals for reorganizing secondary schools to improve the education program while also saving the district money.

Kara Vicente, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in middle schools, presented options for a modified eight period day and a modified eight-period day with extended core.

Under the modified eight-period day, elementary students will still be able to participate in the district’s AVID program, year-round Spanish and music. Those programs would be eliminated. The exploratory programs, however, would still be eliminated.

If the district selected a modified eight-period day with extended core, students would choose between AVID, year-round Spanish, music or exploratory programming. Instructional time for core courses such as math, science and literacy would also increase.

Vicente said the increased focus on core courses such as math would give some students the opportunity to succeed.

“For some students, 45 minutes is not enough time to grasp the complicated concepts,” Vicente said. “This would give some students the chance to be successful in algebra during the eighth grade.”

At the high school level, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching Learning, Ben Churchill, provided board members and the public a glimpse of what a schedule could look like for some students.

Churchill presented three more options including a seven- or eight-period schedule or an A/B block schedule where students are alternating classes daily.

Churchill said there are a number of educational benefits to yearlong classes such as the development of relationships with teachers and the development of skills like reading, writing and critical thinking.

“There are a number of considerations to consider and we want to provide the greatest flexibility as possible as to what students can do during high school,” Churchill said.

Earlier this month, Superintendent Michael Bregy and assistant superintendents for teaching and learning presented the first of the three restructuring options, which included an eight-period day in middle school and a three-by-four block schedule — or 12 blocks per year — for high schools.

The first options would result in the largest number of cuts but would provide the most cost-savings for the district. In March, the district approved $3.1 million in staff and program reductions and is now hoping for $5.2 million in wage and benefit concessions from the teachers union. At a subsequent meeting, the school board voted 4-3 to lay off 363 teachers and administrators to allow for a proposed reorganization. The district expects the final reduction in force to be between 75 and 150 teachers based on the first option and save the district between $4.3 million and $8.2 million.

An estimated cost for the final options will be presented at the May 9 board meeting.