Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Basehor-Linwood schools prepare for new year

August 8, 2001

With the start of the school year only two weeks away, the Basehor-Linwood School District is busy making final preparations for some new programs that will be featured this year.

The first day of school for most students in the district begins on Aug. 20. All students enrolled in grades kindergarten through freshmen in high school will begin on that day, while high school sophomores, juniors and seniors will begin a day later.

Freshmen students at the high school will have a day-long orientation to become acclimated with their new school, district officials said.

A new wrinkle at the high school this year will be the unveiling of a block scheduling system. The new scheduling will be comprised of two or three classes a day that are one hour and fifteen minutes long, as opposed to the previous schedule of six classes a day that are 50 minutes long.

"There will be more of an emphasis on those three courses every other day as opposed to six everyday," District Superintendent Cal Cormack said. "From a student standpoint, there is less preparation required for three classes a day."

As part of the block scheduling, school district officials will also implement a seminar period, a homeroom-type environment where students will be given time to do homework, special projects, study or be tutored.

"If there is a need for them to do something special, whether from an enrichment standpoint or shore up something they missed, it is an opportunity to go back and get additional help," Cormack said. "It is still a learning period, but as a student you have a great deal of freedom as to how you are going to focus your time."

Block scheduling is becoming a growing trend around school districts in the state of Kansas. School districts with the program already in place include De Soto, Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley.

"It has caught on around the country, not in all schools, but many schools have," Cormack said. "Those that have it tend to be very favorable toward it."

School district teachers have been preparing for the schedule since it was passed by the School Board in April. Teacher in-service training has been required by the school district for the purpose of the new schedule.

The new scheduling will be a change for both students and teachers, but Cormack said he was confident the schedule would be successful.

"If we doubted it, we wouldn't have gone to it," Cormack said. "We think it will significantly benefit students."

Another area that will see change this year is the math and reading curriculums in the school district. Cormack said both programs have undergone revision and realignment in order for better student test scores in those areas.

The Basehor-Linwood School District is slightly above the state average in both areas and is searching for ways to get better, Cormack said.

"We are going to sit down and see what we are trying to accomplish on each grade level and what the state standards are," Cormack said. "What those expectations are at various grade levels and to make sure our local curriculum and the state standards are aligned."

School district officials said there will be numerous factors involved in revising the programs, such as the examination of existing textbooks and class resources as well as new teaching methods.

"It's just about us trying to get better in those areas as a school district," Cormack said.

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