Downers Grove high school schedules to stay the same
Feb 04, 2013 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Students in Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove can expect similar daily schedules when they start the 2013-14 school year.
The school board voted unanimously on Jan. 28 to leave the current eight-period day as is for the upcoming year. The school day committee, which had been working since July to try to modify the schedule, had explored block scheduling but determined that it would not work for the district.
Members of the school day committee, comprising 14 teachers and administrators, are still exploring the possibility of modifying the schedule in future years.
"The idea of pulling this joint committee together was to consider looking at our school day, teacher day and work day, and seeing if there was a more ideal day within our typical parameters," District 99 assistant superintendent Lisa Smith said.
Smith added that the biggest goals for a new schedule were to give students a block of time when they have equal access to any of their own teachers. They also wanted to give teachers dedicated time to meet with colleagues for professional development. Smith also said that they wanted to implement this without cutting any programming.
Karen Eder, science chair at South, said the committee spent several weeks considering a switch to a block schedule.
"We found that a block schedule provided a lot of opportunity for innovation and for a large block of time within every school day to provide a considerable amount of intervention for our students," Eder said.
Eder added that with a block schedule, there could have been opportunities for students to take eight classes instead of seven. Ultimately, however, the committee concluded that the district's current facilities would not provide enough classroom space necessary for students to take eight courses, Eder said.
"As much as you'd like to spend a lot of time on something and come out with a fantastic idea, it's equally important to figure out what doesn't work," member Michael Davenport said.
Unable to come up with an alternative proposal, the committee recommended the school day remain the same and that administrators allow teachers to use late-start days for professional development and curriculum work.
The latter suggestion comes as many instructors must balance regular training with have the added role of developing new curricula based on new state learning standards, known as Common Core, which will be implemented in the fall.
"We've typically done that training during the day, or in the summer or outside of the school day," Superintendent Mark McDonald said. "We believe that we can use that same time to do that training that will solve the issue of substitutes, and perhaps we would not have to release as many people as trainers for that purpose."
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