Longer days, shorter school year
The Iola-Scandinavia School District is considering block scheduling
Board member Mike Koles had asked the board to explore ways to lengthen the school days and shorten the school year.
One option was to discontinue late start days, which received objections from the administrative staff.
“The six late start days are quality days, and the academic success of our schools has grown since we started this collaboration,” said Elementary Principal Tess Lecy-Wojcik. “Teacher quality equals student achievement.”
She noted that 12 hours would be gained by changing the late start days to instructional time.
Another option is to lengthen each school day to shorten the school year from 178 to 175 days. Adding 10 minutes per day would equal 50 minutes per week of instructional time.
This option would not show a significant transportation savings, according to Business Manager Sarah Thiel. She reported it costs the district about $600 per day to run the buses.
Contractual issues also need to be considered, said High School Principal Sara Anderson. She noted that teachers are under contract for certain hours and for a set number of days.
Anderson did not see a benefit in adding a few minutes to each class time.
“We should talk block scheduling,” she said. “Then we would have 84-86 minutes of consecutive instruction per class.”
“If going to block scheduling would help our students and help our teachers, maybe that’s what we should do,” said board member Kristen Hoyord.
“We blocked our chemistry classes about four years ago,” said Anderson. “It works.”
The hardest adjustments would be for music and math programs, Anderson noted.
“It’s a no-brainer that we begin to talk block scheduling,” said Koles. “It’s better for the kids, better for the budget and less school days.”
Instead of lengthening the school day for 2015-16, the board agreed to look into switching to block scheduling for the 2016-17 school year.