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Published: Wednesday, 5/2/2012

Schedule switch pitched to members of Perrysburg school board

High school wants to fit in teacher meetings

Perrysburg schools superintendent Thomas Hosler Perrysburg schools superintendent Thomas Hosler
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The grid on the whiteboard in the principal's office breaks down each teacher's schedule, hour by hour.

It illustrates that teachers don't have enough hours in their days to share hints or talk about how to help a struggling student, said Michael Short, Perrysburg High School principal.

Rarely do all the sophomore English teachers share the same planning period, and asking the entire staff to meet after school not only isn't realistic but is a logistical challenge with the teacher's union. School officials are proposing to switch the high school to 90-minute classes several times a month, pushing back school start times on certain days, and setting aside some morning hours for teachers to meet.

Mr. Short pitched the scheduling change to Perrysburg board of education members, most of whom seemed receptive to the idea. The board took no action on it last week.

"I can see how this helps teachers. You're all on the same page," said school board member Walter Edinger.

The next step is for board members to talk about the changes later this month and decide whether they need to take a formal vote, Superintendent Thomas Hosler said.

But a big challenge will be selling the changes to students and parents, said Mr. Short, who has planned meetings this month with parents. "I don't think we're anywhere close to that."

With the scheduling change, teachers would meet from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on 18 Wednesdays a year to analyze student data, make sure they are teaching the same math concepts the same way, and set a plan for when students aren't understanding the material.

Walter Edinger Walter Edinger
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During those Wednesday mornings, school would not be mandatory for the students because there wouldn't be enough supervision, Mr. Short said.

Students who opt to go could receive special tutoring, use the time for extra music rehearsal, prep for ACT tests, or work on applying for scholarships. Filling in for the teachers would be the assistant principal, education students from Bowling Green State University and Lourdes University, and the high school support staff.

Normal classes would then resume at 9:35 a.m., but all students would go to their even class periods, which would run 90 minutes instead of the typical 50.

The following day, school would start normally at 8 a.m., and students would attend their odd class periods for 90 minutes.

With longer classes, science labs could be extended and more hands-on projects or real-life problem solving could be offered.

The change also would mean students see their teachers only four days a week, losing 10 minutes of instruction time weekly.

But Mr. Short said the block scheduling cuts down on tasks such as turning in homework or taking attendance.

In 2007, the district considering the switch to block scheduling but did not have a supermajority of support from the teacher's union to make the change. Since then, the requirement to implement the change was taken out of the contract, Mr. Hosler said.

Perrysburg based the new schedule on that of the 1,660-student Hudson High School, north of Akron. It holds Wednesday morning planning sessions for teachers and block-schedules Wednesdays and Thursdays every week.

Hudson Principal Brian Wilch said students were more rested because they were able to sleep in on Wednesdays, and teachers had more time to work together.

"We'd get complaints if we went away from it. It's a great schedule," said Mr. Wilch, a Fostoria native.

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