By Travis Smola
Schoolcraft schools will move to a three-term schedule following a Board of Education vote to approve the change at its February meeting. It could be called a “2 ½-term calendar.”
High School Principal Ric Seager presented the proposed changes to the board. They provide for two 75-day terms in the fall and spring and a 30-day mini-term or semester to close out the school year. Because the terms aren’t equal in length, it is referred to as an “unbalanced calendar.” The changes have a 90 percent approval by school staff.
One big reason for the change is better alignment with college classes some high school students are taking. Seager noted KVCC’s first semester ends in December while Schoolcraft’s ends later in January. “This is a big logistical issue because of this mismatch,” Seager said.
Schoolcraft’s first term will now start in September and end in December at the same time as many local colleges, eliminating scheduling conflicts that pop up for these students. Seager said there has been a rising interest in high school students taking advantage of college programs, with some students taking five or six college courses a year. The second 75-day semester, from January through April, also closely aligns with local colleges.
In both the first and second semester there will be more of a focus on completing a student’s core courses. In the third term, from May until June, students can focus primarily on academic electives and credit recovery. This means a student who struggled on a course can use the third semester to make up credits and avoid having to take the whole class over again.
Emphasizing core classes in the first two semesters has an added benefit. It opens up time for students to have more elective options in the May term. “The biggest complaint we get from our elementary is ‘where the heck is art?’” Superintendent Rusty Stitt said. He said the schedule would bring back more opportunities for those art classes. “This is nothing but a huge victory for the district.”
Teachers will also have the opportunity to develop new unique elective courses such as women in history or a forensics class. “These are the kinds of classes teachers get excited about building and students get excited about taking,” Seager said.
Trustee Jennifer Gottschalk expressed concerns on the costs of the change, but Seager and Stitt both said the changes will not require additional staff or funding. Finance Director Rita Broekema said she has faith in the work staff has put into the new calendar not adding any additional costs.
While the change will still add up to the state-required 180 days of instruction, there are some other changes coming. Seven classes a day will be reduced to six and each class period will be increased by 10 minutes. These slight changes mean the schools gain an additional six hours of instruction time per year.
It will also lead to a slightly earlier start time of 7:55 a.m. Graduation requirements will be upped from 24 of 28 credits to 26 of 30 credits. Seniors will also have to stay in school one more week as the graduation date will be pushed back to the second Sunday in June.