Proposed schedule changes cause controversy districtwide

NS could be in for a big change in the 2017-18 year as principals and teachers discuss eliminating early-out Mondays and possibly changing the schedule. Based on the feedback from  schools, the decision on this change will be presented to the school board for approval today, March 21.

Anytime a change of this magnitude is addressed, it brings controversy, and many have reacted positively and negatively to the idea of changing the schedule.

The proposal currently on the table is for a shortened schedule every day for the high school and middle school, with the elementaries maintaining the same schedule, with an early-out Monday.

The idea of the entire district moving to early-out Fridays was quickly dismissed at the beginning of the process by the district, and the discussions that most school principals had with their faculty only included the possibility of a shortened schedule every day.

Both the NS counselors and Principal Nan Ault believe any schedule change should help a large percentage of students who take concurrent enrollment college classes, and it should also help students miss fewer classes because of sports and other activities.

One of the biggest concerns in the schedule change is making concurrent enrollment more convenient. Snow College concurrent enrollment courses are either offered Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday and are at the same time every day. Snow College also recently changed their schedule so that concurrent enrollment classes are no longer held on Friday.

“They did that because every school in our surrounding area has short day on Friday but us,” Cox said. “It really creates problems for us because we have short days on Mondays which means our Monday schedule is totally out of whack with theirs.”

With the class times different on Monday, and alternating days for A and B days, students often have overlapping and conflicting classes that make taking concurrent enrollment classes difficult.  The proposed schedule change will help the problem by making all Mondays and Wednesdays A-days, and all Tuesdays and Thursdays B-days. Fridays would either alternate every week or students would attend all eight of their classes.

“The A-B block schedule is something that we really benefit from, but we also want to expand our opportunities to connect to these higher level classes,” Principal Nan Ault said. “Snow College has picked up their game, they’re adding more courses, they’re adding more vocational opportunities, and now here we are without a schedule that works well.”

Cox is also concerned about the concurrent enrollment situation. He believes that changing the schedule will help the concurrent enrollment program grow.

“There are over 100 concurrent enrollment students this year,” Cox said. “We want to increase that number, and changing our schedule will help us do that because fewer students will have scheduling conflicts.”

This proposed schedule change can also benefit all involved in athletics as well. Coaches and teachers alike will have the opportunity to miss less class time. Additionally, any student athlete can arrange his or her schedule to stay caught up during demanding athletic schedules.

“As far as sports are concerned it’s a great advantage because, for example, if a team plays Tuesday-Thursday games, students can now schedule a class on B-day, like weights, that they know they can miss,” Cox said.

Coaches can also schedule prep-periods for 4A or 4B, depending on when those games are.

“If you set the schedule, for example, we could have a fourth period cheer class Tuesday and Thursday when the cheerleaders know they will be leaving,” Ault said, “then they don’t miss so much class time. This can help reduce stress associated with missing class.”

Although this change will benefit the high school, the other schools around the district don’t have any reason to change.

“The biggest problem is everyone in the district has to jump on board if we change the hours because of bussing,” Cox said.

The possibility of only changing the high school was discussed but was originally dismissed because running separate busses would be too expensive. However, after eliminating the early-out Friday, the district reversed course and suggested two different schedules for the elementary and secondary schools.

Changing the entire district would require a big change for elementary schools.

“What we’re asking them to do is make all these changes to benefit our high school kids, which is a big sacrifice,” Ault said. “At the high school, we’ll adapt very well but it’s harder for [the other schools] because their demands are different.”

Losing an early-out day eliminates teachers’ time for professional development which was cause for some concern, but four professional development days will be added to the calendar to help alleviate those concerns. On those days, teachers will be able to come without students and have meetings on those four days to compensate.

Many parents, students, and teachers are in favor of an early-out Friday schedule. Though this schedule was dismissed originally, Superintendent Sam Ray sent an email to parents last Friday saying that they are considering all options.

“I’m grateful to see all options on the table,” Cox said. “I think the early-out Friday schedule will help the greatest number of students, and from conversations I have with both elementary and high school teachers and parents, it’s overwhelmingly supported.”

Elementary schools were presented as having the greatest opposition for the change to early-out Fridays; however, the majority say they are willing to make the sacrifice for the best interest of students.

“Change is always going to be difficult, but if the change is better for everybody in the long run then we have to do what’s best for everybody, not just what’s best for us,” Orton said. “It is going to be hard for us to adjust, but we are willing to do work it out if we need to.”

North Sanpete Middle School principal O’Dee Hansen agrees.

“As a school district, we’re always concerned about each other and we want to help each other out as much as possible and when we make decisions like this we need to realize what kind of effect it’s going to have on the entire school district,” Hansen said. “We have all worked hard to find a solution that will work for everyone.”

If the administrators decide to make this change, Hansen and his staff will look at different possibilities including cutting down flex time or passing periods to maximize instruction time.

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