Resident challenges schedule switch at BHS

He contends district would need more teachers rather than less

By Jennifer Eisenbart

Staff writer

A proposed schedule change at Burlington High School is drawing opposition.

While Burlington Area School District officials have recommended moving away from an eight-period “block” schedule to a more traditional seven-period day, a local man says that the move will cost the district – both in terms of dollars and student options.

Roger Koldeway, who along with his wife Julie spoke at Monday’s general School Board meeting, said in an interview Tuesday that the district will end up having to increase full-time equivalent positions by 6.5 – in direct conflict with what BASD Superintendent David Moyer figures will be a cut of 6-8 teaching positions.

Koldeway also criticized the switch from a student option perspective, saying students will not only have to take fewer credits to graduate, but will also have fewer options – impacting a student’s ability to choose a future career path.

“It’s taking options away from the students,” Koldeway said.

Taking into account the number of current classes and students, Koldeway figured that there are 754 classes right now, with an average of 22.8 students per class.

When the high school switches from eight to seven periods, though – and teachers begin teaching fewer class periods – Koldeway figures the current figure of 62.8 teachers needed will jump to 69.3.

Also, with the number of maximum possible credits dropping to 28 in a four-year high school career, the credits required for graduation will drop to 23 (from 23.5). Koldeway figures that will also result in a mean of 25.5 credits per student, compared to the current mean of 27.75.

“This is only taking us further below the requirements of the other schools that our graduating students will be competing against in the job market,” said Koldeway, who advocated staying with an eight-period day.

Administrators have pushed for the change, saying that under the block scheduling there is a gap between similar classes – sometimes as much as a year and a half. With the seven-period day, those gaps are expected to lessen, making it easier for students to retain knowledge and build on lessons in the same subject areas.

Moyer also said he thinks Koldeway’s calculations are taking a certain set of assumptions in terms of staffing levels.

“They feel that, in their mind, that the way you would have to staff the building would require more teachers,” Moyer said.

Moyer is estimating the number of teachers would actually drop because of the increase when BHS initially switched to the eight-period block scheduling (6-8 FTE spots). But exactly what those numbers will be will depend on what students sign up for in the next two months.

Moyer also said the hours teachers actually teach is changing. Currently, teachers teach six out of eight possible blocks each year. The switch would be to five out of seven.

Since “students need to be accounted for,” he added, teachers would be picking up an advisory period. He also expects, due to requirements in grades and test scores, that most students will be required to take a study hall.

He did say the number of electives would be pared down, and that those classes will likely have a more traditional class size as well.

The district is hoping to have its class scheduling done by mid-January of 2012. Preliminary layoff notices need to be issued by Feb. 15.

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