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Thursday, May 5, 2016

NP board discusses scheduling

Thursday, March 19, 2009

North Putnam School Corp. superintendent Murray Pride told board members at Thursday night's meeting how impressed he is with the amount of service given by staff and students to various causes.

"They help those in our community, state and national who need help. They raised $8,800 with service projects, many around Thanksgiving and Christmas," he said. "But they do much more helping with cleanups and donations of books and toys and other things. These are good lessons to learn and I think we do it very well."

Board President Debbie Sillery agreed with Murray.

"One of the greatest gifts we can teach our children is to have compassion," she said.

Under new business, the group spent some time hearing from high school principal Alan Zerkle and assistant principal Scott Spencer about class scheduling. After much investigation, Spencer and Zerkle told the group they were recommending traditional schedules over block schedules.

"The diversity of our program with Area 30 students and interns is probably not going to allow us to do a mixed schedule," explained Spencer.

The importance of consistency with seeing the same teacher daily is an important plus in the traditional schedule. A student who is ill for two or more days might go an entire week without seeing their teacher under a block schedule.

Right now, the school is looking at having seven periods with 48 minutes in each class. There is some discussion going on about how to fit the silent reading program of 13 minutes daily into the schedule and still have time for teachers to meet with department heads.

Board member Dale McGaughey asked the administrators to try to look at keeping the reading program. He also noted that a few years ago the school cut back on the amount of time students spent in school. He felt if necessary they should look at adding that time back in.

"It's a very popular program that we don't want to eliminate," responded Zerkle.

Sillery commented on the importance of improving the ISTEP scores and felt the consistency would ultimately help those scores go up.

"The most important thing is that we make sure we are using our time effectively," Spencer said. "When it comes right down to it the traditional approach may be the best."

Pride agreed.

"It's especially important in math, science and social studies to have a consistent five days a week," he said. "If you miss a day you have a hard time catching up."

Pride discussed a big change for schools coming from the Indiana Superintendent of Education's Office -- there will no longer be parent conferences within the 180 days that schools are required to be in session.

There will also be no professional development in that time period. This means that there will not be half days for students or parent conferences in the afternoon and evening.

"Finding a way to get them done is somewhat of a challenge," said Pride.

He is working with classroom associations on the best solutions to having the conferences.

The only exception to this new rule is allowing for one and two-hour delays due to inclement weather.

Pride also asked for permission to send notice of reduction in force and/or notice of non-renewal letters to certified staff if necessary. Board members approved his request, with Andy Beck casting the lone negative vote.

"There are alternative ways to look at cutting back before getting rid of teachers," said Beck. "We need to cut back on other things first."

Pride pointed out that they are in the process of running numbers for next year and looking at enrollments and course offerings. Because the school corporation is required by law to give a timely notice, Pride said they may have to send out notifications.

"It doesn't necessarily mean we are going to have to do it," said Pride. "We just have to be prepared to send letters."

The council looked at summer school sessions at the high school, including drivers' education. Some discussion took place about declining enrollments and the eventual possibility of contracting independent driving academies to teach the course.

"At some point we may have to get out of the business and go to private contractors," said Pride.

He also commented on the difficulty on finding cars to rent for the summer as well as declining enrollment in the program.

The use of online summer classes is being considered for summer sessions. Some correspondence classes could be taken in this manner and the high school administration is considering the possibility of making it available.

Charlie Boller reported to the board that there is now an Alumni Band. They are looking for more members to attend the next meeting on April 8 at 7 p.m. at the high school. They will be meeting every Wednesday for practice and will offer a concert in May. Contact Band Director John Pinson at NPHS for more information.

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North Putnam should not eliminate block scheduling. Student who do not have block scheduling have an extremely hard time adjusting to it in college. That struggle can lead to health issues, poor grades, and eventually dropping out. Block scheduling in HS is very important. It helps students develop the ability to manage their time. This is an important part of student development. I hope they think twice before eliminating it.

-- Posted by Treeboy2007 on Thu, Mar 19, 2009, at 11:40 PM

If I had known that Block Scheduling was going to be discussed at this meeting I most certainly would have attended. I remember being in Middle School when the Block Schedule was first adopted and having gone through the system from 6th grade-12th grade and then onto college I will say that I felt very prepared for the collegiate atmosphere and scheduling. Now as a faculty member teaching college courses to incoming Freshmen, I most certainly notice a difference in those who come from a block schedule and those who come from a traditional schedule. Block schedules allow students to be used to the 90 mins they will spend in the college classroom as well as the academic responsibility placed on them by having to be prepared for class every other day. As for the attendance issues, I know that many times I wanted to sleep in or skip school due to 'illness' for the day, but the block scheduling encouraged me to show up anyways. I think that traditional schedules makes it easier to miss 2 or more days, but is that really what we want for our children? I remember the debate over block scheduling and so should Zerkel, it was only about 10 years ago when they found traditional scheduling hurt the science classes by not allowing enough time to complete labs, maybe the college approach should be integrated if traditional scheduling is going to take place and the Chem lab should be a separate period. As for the silent reading time, shouldn't reading be a part of every courses curriculum? Maybe the test scores are so low because they administration is not truly looking at what these teachers are doing in the classroom? I had some great teachers at NP (Grimes, Norman, Moser) but now that they are gone, who is preparing our kids for college?

-- Posted by bluntbuthonest on Thu, Mar 19, 2009, at 11:57 PM

First of all, I graduated from NP many years ago and went on to college for 4 years. I did not have block scheduling and feel that I adjusted pretty well to the college schedule. Did it take a little time to do so...yes, but I knew that it was something I HAD to do! I had to realize that I was an adult and this is what was expected of me! I do not think kids are taught to really understand the SERIOUSNESS of the college situation and that needs to be stressed!

What is not being addressed here is that the middle school uses block scheduling as well, so the kids are used to it when they get to high school....this is why I wonder why change it? You cannot keep block scheduling in the MS and then change it to traditional in the HS!! That just is working backwards....so if you change HS, the you have to change MS!

-- Posted by John3:16 on Fri, Mar 20, 2009, at 6:06 AM

The middle school is not on block scheduling this year.

-- Posted by testmet on Sat, Mar 21, 2009, at 7:51 AM

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