Archive for Wednesday, March 13, 2002

School Board considering grade level confiturations

March 13, 2002

Impending growth has Basehor-Linwood School District administrators considering changes to the current grade configurations at the elementary and middle school levels.

The Basehor-Linwood School Board heard a presentation concerning possible grade changes at its meeting Monday, March 11.

One of those changes, and the one endorsed most by administrators, is making sixth-grade students part of Basehor-Linwood Middle School.

BLMS principal Mike Boyd is chairman of a committee determining the educational impacts of the grade changes. The committee is comprised of teachers and administrators.

Boyd said the committee determined sixth-grade students moving to the middle school was the most "developmentally appropriate."

Boyd said the most common form of middle schools across the country are those that have sixth- grade through eighth-grade classes.

This cuts down on the number of transition years for middle school students, he said.

School officials said there is no timetable on when possible grade changes would be approved and implemented.

Moving the sixth-grade students to BLMS is not expected to have a significant impact financially, school officials said.

A transportation plan must also be designed before any changes are made, school officials said.

Since August, the School Board has considered different scenarios that would alleviate possible over-crowding problems at the elementary schools.

In recent months, school district officials have worked with Basehor and Leavenworth County officials to figure out where the most residential growth would come from and how it would affect the School District.

Basehor Elementary School faces the most growth and that's why the changes to the grade levels are being considered, school officials said.

The School Board also heard a presentation regarding Basehor-Linwood High School at Monday night's meeting.

Since it was implemented nearly a year ago, the block scheduling system at BLHS has been well received, BLHS principal Bill Hatfield said.

"I think the vast majority of students, parents and teachers like it," Hatfield said.

"It does take a lot of work but I think they feel like the students are getting the benefits."

Before the block scheduling was approved by the School Board in April, BLHS students attended seven classes a day for 55 minutes each.

With block scheduling, students attend four classes a day that last 90 minutes each and alternate classes every other day.

The block scheduling also cuts down on passing periods in between classes, school officials said.

As part of block scheduling, students have a daily seminar class in which they are provided time for individual study, tutoring and class make-up work.

BLHS teachers were recently polled on the strengths and weaknesses of the program.

Among the strengths, teachers indicated block scheduling allows them to cover topics in greater detail, gives them more time for labs and projects, and has improved the school and classroom climate. Areas that teachers listed for needing improvement were, teacher/student ratio, missing daily continuity for classes such as music and better use of the seminar period.

"I think we're still learning as a school on how to make use of seminar time," Hatfield said.

Hatfield said the BLHS administration would meet with students and members of a high school site council to discuss ways to improve on the block scheduling.

A second BLHS program was also presented to the School Board during the Monday night meeting.

In August, school officials implemented a communications class, in which students struggling academically received additional help with language art skills.

At the end of the semester, out of the 24 students in the communication class, 17 had improved their overall grade point averages, school officials said.

The average rise in G.P.A. for student improvement in the communications class was approximately one percentage point, Hatfield said.

"The (students) that improved, improved significantly," Hatfield said.

The class was organized by BLHS teacher Josh Anderson. Hatfield said Anderson deserved credit for the success of the class.

"He's the one that needs a pat on the back, he put the whole thing together," Hatfield said.

"We're going to continue to find programs like this that make a difference," he said.

"It keeps students from dropping out. Keeps them staying on-board."

In other news, the School Board:

approved the 2002-03 school year calendar.

approved renewal of the Mid-America Health Insurance program. Premiums increased by 12 percent, costing the School District approximately $52,000 more than the previous year.

approved an interlocal agreement pertaining to a neighborhood revitalization program.

approved renew building administrators contracts for one year.

approved hiring an additional track coach for Basehor-Linwood Middle School.

approved the resignations of Mary Reinhart, science teacher at BLHS, and Mike Markham, custodian at Basehor Elementary School.

approved contracts for Jessica McGee, roving custodian, and Linda Vaughn, five-hour custodian at Basehor Elementary School.

The next Basehor-Linwood School Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 15.

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