Highland school board leans toward block scheduling for 2021-22 year

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During a work session on Monday evening, Oct. 26, the Highland School Board discussed doing a modified version of block scheduling starting with the 2021-22 school year.

School administrators said there is nearly a consensus among teachers to start utilizing block scheduling. Topic for discussion for staff meetings for the next several weeks will be how to implement block scheduling the next school year. It was also mentioned that block scheduling gives greater opportunity for intervention if a student is struggling in one or more classes.

Dean of Students Bill Zywiec said one form of block scheduling is to use block scheduling centered around the 27-minute lunch hour. He noted that other schools have indicated the block scheduling method allows more prep time for students giving them less homework and more time to participate in extracurricular activities.

Concern was raised about how to work around college prep classes through Kirkwood Community College with block scheduling. Staff have been in touch with Cedar Rapids Xavier and Washington high schools to see how they are handling block scheduling.

Superintendent Ken Crawford noted Highland is considering block scheduling by taking an 8-period day and stretching it over a 2-day period — four classes one day and another four classes the next day

Principals also gave a report on MAP testing at the secondary level. It was not that it was anticipating student scores would be flat because of the disruption of learning due to COVID virus, but some students showed significant increase in achievement and growth. One principal noted that “those students who want to do well, do better on the tests.”

Reading skills have shown improvements while math scores seem to be stable or dropping. Results of the MAP test, which cost $12 to $15 a student, are being placed in student folders so students and parents can access them to see where improvements can be made.

Crawford informed the board on progress on the playground improvements and wastewater treatment. He noted the swing which seems to be on a slow boat across the ocean should be in port Oct. 30 and arrive in Riverside within about a week. It can be installed this fall, but surface around the swing would not be placed until there is warm weather again.

The board indicated they supported moving the septic tanks further to the southeast corner of the grounds to allow better drainage and that a permanent gravel road to the treatment building and a light be installed to for $3,500 near the wastewater treatment area and that the facility be designed for additional treatment of wastewater costing $44,000.

The next Highland School Board meeting will be the annual meeting on Nov. 9.

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