It is only in the discussion phase, but teachers and administrators at Great Bend High School are examining switching from block scheduling back to offering seven class periods each day. The topic came up in passing during the Unified School District 428 School Board’s luncheon meeting Tuesday at Riley Elementary School.
District Business Director Dan Brungardt said a committee will be formed at GBHS to study the matter. “They will be looking at instructional efficiency.”
Any action must be approved by the school board. Brungardt said the committee should have a proposal ready by June or July and if a change takes place, it would not go into effect until the 2013-14 school year.
Conversion to block scheduling was a trend in American middle schools and high schools in the 1990s. This involves students having fewer classes per day but with each class lasting longer, typically 90 minutes.
Prior to that, schools scheduled classes so that a student saw every one of their teachers each day. Classes lasted about an hour.
The thinking behind the block concept was students would have more time in a class and get more learning time. Also, it would take fewer teachers to cover the classes.
There are drawbacks. These include taxing students’ attention spans and the lack of time spent repeating information.
Brungardt said the high school administration supports the switch, but it has not been discussed in formal settings by faculty.
In other business, the board:
• Approved using district vans for 2012 driver education instruction instead of leasing vans for that purpose. The district would save the cost of leasing vehicles in June, which comes to about $4,700. Brungardt said there are fewer students taking drivers ed and they went from needing five vehicles to three. The insurance would be a little higher for that month and the passenger-side brake pedal would have to be temporarily installed.
• Approved allowing the district administration to come up with a “request for proposal” to allow other health agencies seek a contract with the district to provide athletic training services. Currently, Advanced Therapy and Sports Medicine of Great Bend has the contract on an on-going basis. The plan would be to have the agency bid on the services for a two-year contract, which might save USD 428 some money. The current service is not an issue, but there has been interest from other agencies that want to have a shot at the opportunity. The change would be in place for the 2012-13 school year.
• Learned the City of Great Bend is looking for a new police liaison officer to replace Mark Bretches, who left for a job in Wichita. Half the salary of the officer is paid by the district. For now, existing officers are filling in the liaison role and handling the Drug Abuse Resistance Eduction (DARE) program duties.
• Approved the retirement of Virginia Cahoj, music teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, Claudia Smitheran, special education teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School, and Mary Thurman, a counselor at Lincoln and Eisenhower schools.