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The school district my children attend is undergoing a change. They are addressing the issue of overcrowding. Beginning in the 2002/2003 school year, the school schedule will no longer be the familiar standard one we have come to know. I have three options before me to choose from.One is going to take effect. A different one may take effect for each School level. I must make a choice for Junior High Students and one for High School Students.

the following information is taken from a letter sent to me by the William S. Hart Union School District as well as some of my own thoughts

DOUBLE SESSION

Students attend school either in the morning or in the afternoon.

Pros

  • students would attend six classes in a row
  • high school students could take college courses
  • schools stay on the traditional calender
  • campus safety is increased
  • student discipline decreased
  • less students on campus at one time
  • summer available for remodeling
  • morning session high school students could work earlier in afternoons
  • Summers available for summer jobs, family vacations

cons

  • access to athletic programs only available to morning students
  • afternoon students would be limited in after school jobs
  • students are divided into two separate schools
  • friends may be separated
  • who gets morning or afternoon schedule?
  • school in session when dark for late students during fall and winter
  • students home unsupervised for longer periods of time

EXTENDED DAY

Schools will be open from 7:00 to 6:20 with 11 class periods. Students assigned to classes throughout the day. The number of classes available is limited to building capacity. Students not in class would be on campus or away from campus(Juniors and Seniors).

Pros

  • Students have same level of access to classes and sports
  • high school students could take college classes at different times through out the day
  • traditional calender is kept
  • students will be able to see some of their friends
  • summer available for remodeling
  • summer programs can continue
  • high school students can have summer jobs
  • students will have time to complete homework during non class times

Cons

  • No access to school buildings by outside community programs
  • Students not in class still on campus (grades 6-10) outside of classrooms
  • students will have less hours after school available for work

MULTI-TRACK

School day remains traditional hours, but schools will be open for most of the year. Three tracks starting at different times during the year with each track getting more than one break but no standard summer vacation.

Pros

  • same level of access to classes and sports
  • School day remains traditional
  • teachers earn more teaching in off track as subs
  • students attend six classes in a row
  • campus safety increased
  • student discipline decreased
  • reduces number of students on campus
  • students will attend school with some friends
  • Youth programs can have access after school
  • off track time can be utilized for students who need remedial help

Cons

  • Not all tracks have access to AP courses
  • Who gets what track?
  • Families not necessarily on vacation at same time
  • Room sharing by teachers
  • teachers more susceptible to burn out
  • Athletes have to return to school off track for practices and games
  • shorter school year.
  • Students not available to work summer jobs
  • no access for community programs during the summer
  • students unavailabe for summer programs(like youth theatre)

I feel that all of these plans are lacking. For me the solution is obvious, but that is because I come from an area that addressed overcrowding by building more classrooms (or more schools) and hiring more teachers(aka a wealthy suburban town). I realize that not all areas or towns are financially able to do that. I can only hope that this is a temporary solution that I must vote on. Any of these plans is better than overcrowding. Teachers can not effectively teach and students can not effectively learn.

The only option available for Junior High students in my view is the extended day option. I don't feel middle school students should be left unsupervised for extended periods of time. They are more susceptible to peer pressure at this age. They are in the grip of hormones and don't always make decisions based on rational thinking. Some do, but not all. I watch my own middle school kids making less than stellar judgements. (example, experimenting with magnifying glass during dry season) They do not have the experience yet in decision making. They are only just beginning to find their place in the world. They are not mature enough to take care of themselves. There aren't enough programs for middle school age children to keep them busy and mentally challenged while their parents are at work. My younger middle school kids want the double session. They want to be home early to have more time to run around loose after school or watch TV. Yes, this scares me.

As for high school teens, the decision is not so easy. I wonder if this choice is being presented to the students as well so they have a say in their future. It will effect them the most.
My soon to be high school student wants extended day because he doesn't want his summers messed with. He wants to play sports during the school year. He wants to work, or visit back east in the summer. He'll have time during school to get his homework done because he dislikes doing it after school. Those are his reasons, though he would prefer things to stay the way they are.

I find it sad that it has come to making a decision based on the lesser of three unsatisfactory plans. I think it's time to rethink how we fund education if we can not adequately teach our children in safe environments without having to play musical chairs with classroom space.


I just caught my middle school daughter lighting matches because it popped into her head to do so.
"What would have happened if you caught the place on fire?"
Ooops! I didn't think about it.

I rest my case.

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