Source: Sherman Publications

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New class schedule in the works for OHS

by Andrew Moser

March 02, 2011

A new class schedule is on its way to Oxford High School in the near future. The biggest question is when.

Oxford Community Schools is looking to do away with the current schedule and switch to a rotating, seven-period day.

According to OHS Assistant Principal Todd Dunckley, who has been spearheading the schedule change along with Assistant Principal Kurt Nuss, the new schedule would allow for students to attend each of the core classes - English, Math, World Language, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education, Technology and Art - four days a week on a rotating basis.

In order to accommodate all eight areas during the seven period day, two subjects, PE and Technology for instance, would split a single class period and rotate every four weeks. "All the traditional core areas, plus world languages, will be maintained with their full period, not split," Dunckley added.

One day a week, probably on Wednesday, the high school would undergo a late start to allow time for teachers to undergo International Baccalaureate training and a prep hour.

A class period would be added before and after school to create more opportunities for students Dunckley said.

Dunckley said the switch to this new schedule was to meet the new benchmarks from the Michigan State Department of Education.

"This current trimester doesn't have the same amount of effect with the new state rules as far as curriculum and expectations with the new benchmarks," Dunckley said. "Quite honestly the only way that it would have worked in a few years was to eliminate electives, and we don't want to do that."

Dunckley added that the switch wasn't just about looking into a schedule allowing for the high school to keep all of it's current opportunities for students, it was also about saving the district money.

"It is a money saver to go to this as well," he said. Dunckley could not pinpoint an exact dollar amount of how much the district could save with the new schedule because of all of the unknown factors, such as textbooks, technology and student enrollment. He said there was "no doubt about it" the district would save money over a two, three year period.

The schedule on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday would have a first, second and third hour and rotate between fourth, fifth and sixth hour. On Wednesday, students would begin school late, missing first, second and third hour while attending fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.

According to Dunckley, this type of schedule allows for students to take exams before they leave for Christmas break and start fresh when they return. It also allows for the IB program to be transitioned in easily. Students in the IB program would take IB classes during the same hour other students are in regular class.

"It allows us to do everything we believe in, allows us to take care of the new state curriculum, the IB, and it really gives us the opportunity to enhance the climate as far as really proactive ways to address some learning at the end of the year and some (credit) recovery," Dunckley said.

The high school would have a May Term, where students can select to participate in special classes designed to enhance their experience or get placed in credit recovery classes.

"When we get to May term, students are pretty much done with the traditional core they take. We look at their standard based assessments and we look at what we need to review and what we need to cover," Dunckley said.

"Then we get real creative with some really unique classes for some fun learning experiences in that last month of school."

The May term would begin in mid-May and run through mid-June.

The new schedule would slowly begin to be phased in over the course of three years.

In the first year, the rotating seven day period would go into affect, giving the school a chance to study the effectiveness of the schedule and make the necessary adjustments.

In year two, the school would implement the full collegiate schedule, including the May term. In year three, the high school would implement the Middle Years Program and Diploma Program at the high school, if it becomes IB accredited.

Dunckley said the material they presented to Oxford Community Schools Board of Education has been tweaked and will continue to be tweaked.

"The plan is to bring forward by Monday if we have enough answers. We won't bring it forward and they (Board of Education) won't talk about it if there is not enough answers," Dunckley said.

The Board of Education is expected to meet on Monday, March 7 at District Office downtown to discuss the schedule.

"Right now I can tell you there will be some conversation on Monday, but I can't tell you if they will be ready for a vote," Dunckley added. "This board will not vote on something, especially in these times, if they do not have a good feel of all the facts and details."

Dunckley said he has every confidence the staff at OHS will figure out ways to make the schedule work, even though it will be an adjustment for them.

"This staff is superb, this staff will make anything succeed once we decide to get there, and I think they will decide to get there in a relatively quick amount of time," he said.