In tonight's 16 focus on education, South Bend Schools are looking at options to redesign high school schedules. It was just one of a few topics that came up at tonight's school board meeting.
South bend school officials say a redesigned schedule is a way to get more productive planning time in for teachers. They're also hoping to cut class sizes down and work at building more of a community feeling within each high school, all with the hopes of retaining students and getting test scores up.
One of the first orders of business on the school board's agenda, a look at the schools finances. The business manager says the good news is the corporation is still in the black, not the red. But to keep it that way, he says the schools still need to focus on socking money away within different budgets. “We're going to be seriously challenged with the 2% circuit breaker. If we end on loosing $3.6 million as the projections are on that, those cash balances go to zero real quick,” says South Bend School Corporation Superintendent, Dr. Robert Zimmerman.
A redesign of the high school schedules and class sizes was also proposed. Since November, a team has been looking at successful alternative high schools throughout the country. They're hoping to implement some of that success into South Bend's high schools. The schedule re-vamp would give teachers more planning time. Officials are also hoping to cut down on the number of students that transfer between schools. “One of the real pieces is the relationship and the idea that every child needs an individual that they can trust and know while they're in high school,” says Zimmerman.
Between the four high schools, an estimated 14-hundred students apply for transfers each year, a major logistical problem for those working the schedule. “I think having 1400 kids moving around is completely unacceptable,” says South Bend School Board Member, Bill Sniadeski
The final issue addressed, the grant application for three new magnet schools. Although, most are excited about the prospect, schools must find their own monies for transportation. The board has another three more weeks to come up with that solution. “The transportation costs are coming out much higher than we anticipated. We're currently looking at ways to defray those costs and try to find ways that we can cover those costs with other resources,” says Zimmerman.
Mary Ann Zimmerman, a representative for South Bend teachers, also spoke at tonight's meeting. She says she'd like to see more involvement among teachers in a redesign of high school schedules.