New schedule means more opportunities to learn in Dist. 300

Eight-period day will begin in 2012-13

Updated 9/27/2011 2:25 PM

A change to schedules in Community Unit District 300 will result in more minutes in the classroom and continuous learning for students at the district's three high schools.

The board of education on Monday unanimously -- albeit not without hesitation -- approved the change, which will shift high school schedules from the current four-block schedule to an eight-period day beginning in the 2012-2013 school year.


Assistant Superintendent for High School Teaching and Learning Ben Churchill said the recommendation is the result of numerous presentations to the board, community forums and questions from staff, students, parents and community members.

"This represents more than just (Superintendent) Bregy and myself," Churchill said. "We tried to incorporate the thoughts of all stakeholders."

The changes, district leaders said, will provide the best educational experience for students, starting in the 2012-2013 school year, by providing continued and consistent exposure to the curriculum. The new schedule would also add up to 60 additional hours of instruction per year.

The current block schedule leaves gaps as long as a year in the instruction of some courses.

While district leaders contend the 45-minute, eight period schedule provides the best situation for students, some school members asked for a more detailed financial plan.

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Board member Joe Stevens called the financial presentation "woefully inadequate" and said the decision to support the changes caused a significant moral dilemma.

"I understand that is the absolute best for our students," said Stevens, who voted in favor. "But is it the best thing to do when we know we don't have the money?"

Last school year, the district trimmed about $6.7 million from its budget.

Administrators estimate the hiring of new teachers is estimated to cost the district between $425,000 and $769,000 per year. Plus, administrators estimated a one-time expense of $775,000 to cover materials and professional development.

Superintendent Michael Bregy said the additional costs of textbooks and professional development for teachers are covered by line items in the current budget. However, Bregy was unable to provide concrete information on how the district would pay for the additional 7 to 13 teachers the district expects it would need to hire.

"That is the hardest part because we know with the new schedule, there's an increase in the opportunities for flexibility," Bregy said. "It's difficult for us to tell you exactly what we need. At the high schools, schedules are driven by student requests."

Tthe district would save money, Bregy said, if staff members made changes to health care benefits. In addition, the district is anticipating millions in revenue from Capital Development Board funds, which would reimburse the district for new classrooms built in 2007.


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