South Bend school board hears plan for 7-period day
Washington High School would continue on its trimester schedule for the time being.
In the end, board members said they need more information before they can make a decision.
"I'm sure this has been done somewhere else," Roger Parent said of the proposed change. "I'd like to know more about what the impact has been, what research has shown."
Cindy Oudghiri, director of high school programs, said there are many benefits to a seven-period day.
Students who struggle can retake classes or get remediation in that extra hour each day.
For others, it provides an opportunity to explore additional electives or participate in magnet programs or career and technical education programs with less of a burden to attend summer school or "zero hour" classes before the start of the normal school day.
Oudghiri admits a drawback to the change would be reducing instructional time.
Classes would be 50 minutes long as opposed to the current 53 to 59 minutes.
And teachers would be asked to teach more classes, an issue that lacks appeal among some at a time when teacher morale is low, Oudghiri said.
Superintendent Carole Schmidt said she met with some teachers from the affected buildings.
"We'll have to work out these challenges," she said, "but we've started the conversation."
After the meeting, Jason Zook, teachers union president for South Bend, said he's concerned about possible budget implications of such a schedule change, as well as staffing issues. He also would like to see all four high schools on the same schedule.
Oudghiri said the switch would likely result in an overall loss of eight teaching positions.
Meanwhile, Mishawaka High School is on an alternating block schedule with four 85-minute classes each day.
Principal Jerome Calderone said earlier this week there's no discussion there about switching to a different schedule.
That said, he did acknowledge the benefit the seven-period day offers to students who need to make up credits.
As for South Bend, the administration agreed to do more research about the implications of switching from a six- to a seven-period day and bring it back to the board.
Staff writer Kim Kilbride: