Easton School Board Approves Block Scheduling
The board also raises the fees it charges cable companies to broadcast Easton games.
Opposing the longer class periods were directors Kerri Leonard-Ellison and Pat Vulcano.
Leonard-Ellison said she was concerned the switch, which will begin in the 2012-2013 school year, was being made prematurely.
"I have deep concerns about the readiness, about the implementation start date for 2013," she said. “I just think we're crunching this...I think if we're going to do this, we need to make sure it's planned out.”
But the other members expressed enthusiasm for the plan.
“I'm of the opinion the plan is in place for professional development,” said board member Janet Matthews.
Vulcano said his research led him to believe that block scheduling is largely unsuccessful, and is especially difficult for less academically inclined students.
“This could be detrimental to the slower kids who can't catch on,” he said.
Superintendent Susan McGinley stressed the plan to implement five 80-minute periods instead of the current nine 41-minute periods is not traditional block scheduling.
"What we're discussing is a flex schedule. That's totally different than a true block scheduling," McGinley said, adding, "The intervention is going to be built into the day [for students who need it]."
Board member William Rider, a former principal at the high school, said he thinks the plan's flexibility is a big plus, and the switch will be advantageous.
“It eliminates movement [between numerous classes], it eliminates study halls. I think there's a lot more to it than just a four-by-four block,” Rider said. “I can't wait to see it in action.”
In other business, the board voted unanimously with little discussion to raise the rates charged to Service Electric Cable for the broadcast of high school football games -- from the current $150 for the broadcast of home games to $500 for live telecasts, and $300 for tape-delay showings.
Athletic department representatives have stated they believe the live telecasts cut into ticket sales, and the new rates are an attempt to recoup the financial loss.
And, after some discussion, the board finalized the 2012-13 district schedule as proposed. The vote was 6-3, with board members Tim Reilly, Rider and Vulcano dissenting.
Reilly said he objected to starting the school year before Labor Day, as he feels the split week and half-days waste school time
Rider similarly felt that two in-service days planned to coincide with the general and primary elections on Tuesdays -- where students would have a day off in the middle of the week-- would be unnecessarily disruptive to learning.
Administrators noted that three elementary schools are polling locations, and the district has traditionally planned the in-service days to coincide with the elections to avoid potential traffic issues, particularly in presidential election years.
Rider said the potential conflicts with the elections could be overcome at the three schools, noting that the number of schools in the district that are unaffected is greater. He added that students could witness the election process, if there was school that day.
“It's a great teaching moment for kids, and we're passing that up,” he said.