Mundelein High officials make case for eliminating block schedule

Mundelein High employees speak out on block scheduling

  • Mundelein High School teacher and coach Rahul Sethra tells parents about the disadvantages of the block schedule during a forum Wednesday.

    Mundelein High School teacher and coach Rahul Sethra tells parents about the disadvantages of the block schedule during a forum Wednesday. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

  • Mundelein High School officials are considering changing from a block schedule that puts kids in four classes each day to a traditional eight-period day.

    Mundelein High School officials are considering changing from a block schedule that puts kids in four classes each day to a traditional eight-period day. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/17/2016 7:51 PM

Teachers and administrators who want to eliminate Mundelein High School's unusual block schedule made their case at a community forum Wednesday night.

Led by Superintendent Kevin Myers, the team explained how the block schedule -- in which students take four, 90-minute classes each day instead of a traditional eight-period day -- has become rare nationwide after initial interest in the 1990s.

 

They said it has hurt student performance on Advanced Placement college placement exams and learning because of long breaks in instruction.

Those breaks -- called "gap time" -- and the resulting learning loss are a big reason Myers and his staff are pushing for a change.

About 50 people attended Wednesday's meeting in the school auditorium.

Much of the presentation was a repeat of the information the team gave the school board at a public meeting a few weeks ago.

An eight-period day allows students to take more elective classes and broaden their education, school psychologist Krysta Penuel said. It also allows more flexibility for students who need out-of-class assistance because of special behavioral or educational needs, she said.

Mundelein High has been on a block schedule since 1996. The goal was to increase time in each class and to reduce time in passing periods to prevent behavioral problems.

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Of the 20 public high schools in the county, only Mundelein uses a block schedule.

Two alternatives have been proposed: a traditional eight-period day, or a modified block schedule that mixes four- and eight-period days.

After about an hour, Myers asked audience members for their comments. Parent Jennifer Brunkow spoke first and strongly endorsed the block schedule. She said it reduces homework and student stress and allows teachers to get to know students better.

She also cited statistics showing Mundelein High students perform better than those at Lake County schools with similar demographic makeups.

"Mundelein is already succeeding," she said.

Another woman, who didn't give her name, said the block schedule is problematic for kids with chronic illnesses. Lengthy absences put students significantly behind their classmates because classes are longer each day, she said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Other people spoke both in favor and against the block schedule.

A second forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 31.

The school board could vote on the schedule in September. Any changes would be implemented in the 2017-18 term "at the very earliest," Myers said.

Schedule: School board may vote next month

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