South Bend school board approves 7-period days for most high schools

After hearing dozens of parents, teachers and students speak out Tuesday night, the South Bend school board approved moving to 7-period days at most of the corporation's high schools.

They voted 5-2 to implementing the new schedule at Adams, Clay, Riley and New Tech high schools.

Many argue it will give students of all levels more opportunities; those who are falling behind can use the extra period to retake a course, while students who are excelling can use the time to take a specialized course.

"It will be very important to use the additional flexibility to meet the individual needs of students, be that specialization, or enrichment or remediation," said New Tech Principal John Kennedy.

Some teachers say the 7-period day is especially important to students in special programs, like Career and Technical Education.

But, several teachers from Adams High School expressed concern about the change, saying the board shouldn't mess with a good thing.

"Our current schedule works exceptionally well for the overwhelming majority of our students, regardless of their academic level," said an Adams government teacher.

Adams has seen students make great progress with the current 6-period day, which incorporates "success periods."

During that times, teachers help students with problems they're having in a specific subject matter.

Several teachers from Adams asked the school board to consider their school's unique learning environment and exempt them from the schedule change.

Board members Roger Parent and Bill Sniadecki made a motion to do just that, but it failed.

So did a motion to table the issue until June.

Parent said he felt the administration didn't consult teachers and parents enough before moving forward with the measure.

He wanted more time for the board to gather information and come up with a specific plan of what the schedule change would look like in each school.

But, Superintendent Carole Schmidt says there is no exact plan because the board wants to work with each high school to make the schedule work for their students.

That means some specialized courses will be capped at no more than 25 students with the schedule change.

Schmidt says she will also introduce a measure to bring data techs and department aides back into the schools to help teachers with their extra work loads.

Originally, the change would result in the loss of 8 teaching positions, but that may change.

The corporation didn't know how much money the proposal will save.

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