OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Oswego school board continued down a path Tuesday night that might end with changes to the Oswego High School bell schedule.
Patricia Oughterson, OHS principal, and Brian Hartwell, assistant principal, offered some pros and cons regarding possible changes in the schedule for high school students.
“We looked at the pros and cons of changing it from a nine-period day to an eight-period day,” she told the board.
The example she proposed meant a 10-minute increase in instructional time per period.
There are currently four lunch periods. The plan would cut that down to three.
“The biggest pro for us is the increase in instructional time. We would go from 42 minutes a period or 210 minutes of instruction a week to 51 minutes a period,” Hartwell said.
That equals out to 1,800 minutes of additional instruction time for a year, he pointed out.
“Any change has trade off. The cons are noteworthy in looking at because there is significant trade off in scheduling conflicts and scheduling difficulty,” he said. “There are also impacts on student course selection.”
As the discussion continues, the district will seek input from various stakeholders, including staff, students and parents.
One of the classes would be interrupted by the second lunch period.
“Some people might see that as a con. Some might see it as a pro,” Hartwell said.
There are 53 study halls, which the board agrees is too many, Hartwell continued. The proposal would decrease the number of study halls offered, he said.
One of the goals of the plan is putting more students in classes rather than study halls, he noted.
A decrease in the number of students at OHS also played a big part in the plan to decrease the number of lunches, he said.
“We’re set to be at 1,375 next year. We’re at 1,409 as of today. It looks feasible to go from four periods to three periods,” Hartwell said.
In one of her former districts, Oughterson had a class split by lunch.
“It’s a little difficult for teachers to get used to it, and even the kids. But it is a successful way to do it,” she told the board. “The positive side of it is the teacher does the instructional piece of the lesson then you go to lunch for 25 minutes. They come back and have the second half of the class period and to the application piece of the lesson.”
The pivotal part is the kids actually have more time with the teachers in the classroom, she added.
“It can be done. It just has to be a system that is put into place and we have to find some efficient, effective ways to make it happen,” she said. “I’m very confident that whatever we decide to do, we will do it in the best interests of the students. This is a student-centered schedule.”
“Do you think the cons are overwhelming? Can they be overcome?” asked board president Sam Tripp.
“I think so. I think anything is possible,” Oughterson replied. “Are we going to make everybody happy? Absolutely not.”
“No one likes change,” Tripp interjected.
“No one likes change,” the principal agreed. “People are going to be very protective of their territory. The thing is, we’re not here to protect territory, we’re here to do what’s best for the kids.”
That likely means minor changes to programs, she said.
By the next board meeting they’d like to come back with some opinions from all the participants and share them with the board, Superintendent Bill Crist said.
Plans to change, if any change is decide on, would start in early March to make sure the new schedule could be implemented in September, Crist said.
Board member Fran Hoefer said he was “dumbfounded” by the proposal.
“I have been waiting and wishing for this kind of constructive and logical, wonderful use of our system,” he said. “It makes me almost want to weep.”
“In the end, my hope is that we come together as an educated body and come up with what’s best for the kids,” Oughterson said.