Administration is exploring changes to scheduling at Saline Middle School to give students more options when choosing elective courses.
Middle school principal Brad Bezeau and assistant principal Alex Schukow presented the school's scheduling committee findings to the Saline Board of Education at the Feb. 11 meeting.
For years, the middle school has been running a five-period day – plus lunch. For seventh and eighth-graders, the entails five 71-minute classes and a 30-minute lunch period. For sixth-graders, the schedule differs. They have three core classes of varying lengths – 71 minutes, 112 minutes and 119 minutes – a 70-minute elective and a 35-minute lunch class.
Principal Bezeau believes it may be time for a change. He said the existing schedule forces students to choose some electives over others – a choice that may deprive them of important learning opportunities.
“In Saline we're busy having it at all. So, we want to have it all in our schedule. One of the foundations here in Saline is student choice and we're not sure our schedule really lends to that,” Bezeau told the board. “Sixth graders, don't get much choice. In sixth grade, you get to pick between choir and an orchestra. That's it. And then you must take Spanish, physical education and art. So that's not really student-driven choice.”
A key conclusion of the scheduling committee was a need to provide students with at least one more elective choice.
One way to do that may be to have six periods a day. The classes would last 60 minutes instead of 71.
Schukow said there are benefits and limitations to the current schedule. Sixth graders still have a homeroom experience, which is seen as a benefit. But it comes at a cost of limited elective rotations during third hour. For seventh and eighth graders, the 71-minute classes provides time to learn in core classes and work labs, and it supports the teaming model. But having only two electives limits students’ ability to explore other interests.
Schukow said the scheduling committee also prioritized maintaining the team-teaching structures.
A six-period day would grant music students the chance to take two additional electives each year. For students not in music, they could take up to four additional electives.
But that comes at a cost. Students would spend less time learning in core classes.
There’s another consideration. The five-period day requires 50 full-time equivalent teachers. A six-period day requires 48.
“Could there be a potential reduction in terms of staffing just because we can teach more sections on a six-period schedule? Yes. That's not the point here, but that's certainly something that needs to be thought through and considered in this whole process,” Schukow said.
Bezeau emphasized the presentation was not a recommendation. Middle school administration wants to hear feedback from the board and middle school staff before making a recommendation to the board.