CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Superintendent Lyn McKay settled on a middle school schedule for the 2012-13 school year on Tuesday night, electing to change the current model of nine, 40-minute periods to a schedule with six, 55-minute periods and a 38-minute lunch. The change is expected to save the district between $500,000-600,000 in reduced staffing.
“In terms of the longer periods, the instructional benefit is without a doubt,” said McKay. She said longer periods are going to allow all teachers and students to have the “opportunity to experience the balanced instruction, an opportunity to experience more differentiation, more small groups, more individual help.”
McKay said she believes that students need longer time for "core" classes, such as math, science, English and social studies, despite it coming at a cost to non-core classes, like arts and physical education.
McKay said the biggest drawback to the 55-minute core classes will be the loss of a daily second language class. Language classes, like core classes, currently meet 180 times a year for 40 minutes. In the new model, the language classes will meet 120 times a year for 55 minutes, which would be a reduction of 10 hours over the course of the year.
“We are aware that no one of these models – I’ve said it many times – is perfect,” said McKay. “We are not allowing the same frequency for some of the (non-core) subjects.”
McKay also decided against changing the structure of the middle schools’ student body. She did not want to split the schools into one fifth and sixth grade school, and one seventh and eighth grade school, as she likes having students in one place for as long as possible, giving them fewer transition periods to deal with.
“Students get to know their teachers over a four-year period,” said McKay. “We’ve had a five-eight model going for the last nine years and we’re pleased with it.”
McKay said due to declining enrollment, she will not rule out the consolidation of some of the district’s schools in the future, however, she does not want to make two radical changes at the same time. She added that splitting the middle schools also did not work from a busing standpoint, as some students would experience bus rides up to 50 minutes. “That just didn’t make sense,” she said.