Great Bend High School Principal Tim Friess told the school board Monday that a new eight-period schedule would offer advantages over the seven-period schedule now employed at GBHS. The proposal was studied by the Building Leadership Team, which recommends it for boosting graduation rates, among other benefits.
No action was taken Monday and it is expected this will be on the agenda at the March school board meeting.
“Our main goal has always been what’s best for kids,” Friess told the board. The leadership team wanted to provide more time for students that need intervention without lengthening the school day. This proposal reduces class periods from 48 minutes to 45 minutes and replaces daily “advisory time” with two advisory hours a week. Teachers who now have one daily planning time will have a second “collaborate planning time” to meet with other teachers and plan lessons together.
Friess said GBHS has an 83 percent graduation rate, which puts it in the “bottom 100 of the state.” This aims to address that.
Having eight periods gives students one more opportunity each semester to gain a credit. It also allows students more opportunities to take electives, including CTE (career and technical education) classes or classes where they can earn college credit. “In that respect, it helps all levels of students,” Friess said.
The extra period could also allow the high school to offer an ACT preparation class, Friess said.
Advisory time would be twice a week and would include time for student-led parent-teacher conferences, social-emotional programs and the Xello-brand career cruising program, for example. To students who now use advisory time for homework help or to do their homework, Friess responds that was never the intention of advisory periods. The school offers one hour before and after school for tutoring.
Board members had questions and indicated they had received phone calls from parents and students who have concerns about the proposal.
“As a former science teacher, when I see a class period go from 48 minutes to 45, I think, ‘I need that time,’” board member Don Williams said.
Friess said science, shop and physical education teachers who favor longer class periods “all said they can make it work.” Four students also said “no problem,” he said. “I have not received any negative feedback from anybody. We’re trying to do what’s best for kids.”
However, board members Cheryl Rugan and Lori Reneau both said they have received phone calls.
“They’re concerned that there will be more homework,” Rugan said, and less advisory time to do homework. The district needs to be sensitive to the amount of time students spend at jobs, helping their families and/or extra-curricular activities, she said. Also, because clubs don’t have time to meet during the school day, fewer students can be involved in groups such as KAYS. (That change was made last year.)
Friess agreed that more classes shouldn’t automatically mean more homework. “A teacher doesn’t have to assign something every night,” he said.
Rugan said the extra period could benefit some students but will create a challenge for others.
Friess said with 900 students, no plan will please everyone. “The Building Leadership Team agrees this would benefit a majority.”
Board member Deanna Essmiller said she received a call from a guidance counselor who likes the proposal. “The guidance office puts their stamp of approval on it.”
Board member Jacquie Disque said consistency is important. Advisory time should not be a time for visiting and napping, she said. “You can waste 25 minutes really fast.”
Board members also asked Friess to report back about what other school districts are doing
In other business, the board approved the following grants and contributions:
•Dara Touslee, kindergarten teacher at Park Elementary, wishes to apply for a $200 Hutchinson Cosmosphere grant to offset admission fees for a field trip for kindergarten students.
• Great Bend Public Library wishes to donate a nearly new Lulzbot Taz 6 3D printer. The equipment will travel to the elementary libraries throughout the year for Joy Boyd’s library classes. Contribution includes printer valued at $2,000; 16 filament spools valued at $35 each or $560 total, and a wood homemade spool rack (no value indicated).
• Great Bend High School wishes to accept $6,240 in contributions received to date from multiple donors supporting the GBHS Community Service Day scheduled for April 24.
• Golden Belt Community Foundation wishes to contribute four $500 mini-grants to Park Elementary, Lincoln’s 6th-grade class, Ms. Lauren’s 6th grade at Riley, and Mrs. Thoren’s 5th-grade class at Eisenhower. The grants are awarded for participation in the Giving Tuesday 2018 School Challenge and are to be used for academic well-being of the classroom.
• Golden Belt Community Foundation wishes to contribute a $312 annual endowment grant to Helping Hands Preschool from the Sherry Viles Memorial Fund.
• GBHS Class of 2020 wishes to accept a $200 contribution from La Pasadita Carniceria to be used for the GBHS Junior-Senior Prom.
Meeting at a glance
Here’s a quick look at Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting:
• Volunteers in district schools were recognized. They provide an estimated 123-plus hours each week across the district, with many additional hours relating to special events.
• The school calendar for 2020-2021 was approved.
• District policy revisions were approved.
• Next year’s E-rate funding requests were approved.
• The board approved the purchase of 1,100 Chromebooks and 130 iPads, for a total cost of $379,399.50
• The board approved releasing bid specs for flooring at Lincoln and Jefferson schools.
• GBHS Principal Tim Friess presented details of a Building Leadership Team study comparing seven-period and eight-period schedules.
• The next English language arts curriculum recommendation for GBMS and GBHS was presented. This was a first reading of the proposal.
• Superintendent Khris Thexton gave a legislative update.
• Contributions were approved.
• The board approved the appointment of Marcus Collick to teach fourth grade at Riley Elementary School. He is in the Transition to Teaching program. The board also accepted the resignation of Eisenhower Elementary Principal Laurie Harwood.
• The board met in executive session for 35 minutes to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation.