At Tuesday night’s Nanuet Board of Education meeting, Barr Principal Roger Guccione highlighted some of the key points of the schedule change and then went into detail on each grade level.
This change came about because of the need to cut costs within the school district to stay below the required .
“One of the elements of the budget—that we just approved to bring forward to the voters—is the middle school schedule is going to be changed from the current year,” said Superintendent Mark McNeill.
On Thursday, April 19, Guccione will be hosting an orientation for the parents of incoming 5th grade students to review the schedule in detail for the parents
“The current schedule has been in place since Roger (Guccione) came on board. The fifth grade was moving over (from Highview to Barr). I remember our charge to (Roger) was to accommodate the concerns parents have about fifth graders in Nanuet being in the same building as eighth grade. Out of all of that came a very innovative schedule,” said McNeill. “Unfortunately, with the economic times, we have arrived at that point where we can no longer afford that scheduling. A lot of time and effort this year was put into mitigating that reality.”
The total savings for the district with this schedule change is approximately $200,000, which represents roughly 2.5 teaching positions.
The Big Picture
Guccione worked with a core team of teachers to figure out a schedule that would address the needs of the students, the school, testing and mandated common core standards. Some creative methods were used as well.
Overall, we’re going back to a 9-period day. Each period will be 42 minutes long and there will be a 20-minute advisory period in the beginning of the day. All four grades will go through that,” he said. “We’re currently working as a faculty to reinvent advisory, the good parts of it that happened years ago and add some things that would be relevant and important for kids in the future.”
Barr addressed the concerns of contact time in the core areas by adding an enrichment period, which allows the school to keep 90 percent of instructional time in the core areas.
“We’re still developing this and we have some things in mind that need to be fleshed out,” he added. “We’re going to try new things and be innovative. Some things will work better than others and we’ll look at this each year to see what’s best meeting the kids’ needs and the district’s goals.”
Teacher Chris Polizzi will also be starting a programming class for 7th and 8th grades.
“I’m proud to say that we are now able to provide co-teaching in all four major core areas every day (in special education). We had to cut back on that previously,” he said.
In special education, they spent a good amount of time looking at the model, in terms of coaching and the resource room.
“The resource remodel for 5th and 6th graders is actually three out of four days, so the special education students will get a little more time in the resource room and in the co-teaching model,” said Guccione.
- All the social studies and science periods will be 42 minutes
- There will a double block for ELA—an 84-minute block
- “For mathematics—this is one of those creative pieces—there will be a 42-minute period daily and there will be an additional math class every four days. That will take place during a new period called Enrichment”
- Enrichment period—This is an additional period each day that will rotate on a 4-day cycle to align with the high school’s schedule. One of the four days is the additional math class while the other three other days will be additional subject areas, such as literacy circles, poetry, something in mathematics or science.
- “During that (enrichment) period, students can take on a number of different things. We’re looking to be creative, but again, reinforcing the goals of the district and the goals of the school”
- “In this model, since we added the ninth period, all students will be able to participate in band, orchestra and chorus, even students who have remediation or the resource room,” said Guccione.
- The core subject areas—social studies, science, math and ELA—mirror that of 5th grade.
- “The enrichment period is different for 6th grade. Some of the things we’re considering are Achieve 3000 (a literacy program), Rosetta Stone (foreign language) and we also have to put our general music course in there.” He added that they’re replacing general music with health in the ‘wheel’ courses, so general music will now need to be made up by being taken during an enrichment period.
- The hope is that Rosetta Stone will help kids explore foreign languages, either French or Spanish, and give them some background for them to make their choice for 7th grade.
- Guccione had a meeting with all the fifth and sixth grade teachers to discuss some of the needs of students and some of the courses that can be created for the students to meet district goals. Math teachers are now discussing how they’re going to use the extra math period.
- He added that this enrichment period offers the chance to stretch the curriculum and do things that are more hands-on, that can relate to more real world situations.
- 5 academic periods: English, math, social studies, science and foreign language
- “Continue to offer enriched math for students that are recommended.”
- In addition to that, the other periods are: lunch/recess, the ‘wheel’ (which includes art, tech, general music) and an elective period.
- Elective period—students will get to choose band/chorus/orchestra or the tech electives or an advance art elective. Students can get one or two electives and the remedial or resource room if they need it. “It’s nice to have this flexibility.”
- “We’re looking to make the traditional study hall into something more. We’re providing technology so students can get on to Achieve 3000 and ALEKS (a math program) and any of the other technology programs we can bring forward. We hope to make good use of that time.”
- “We think many of the students will get may electives so we’re not going to have a lot of periods where students will have study hall and enhanced technology periods.”
There will be a few changes for this grade level.
- “We’re going to continue with earth science, but the lab now will be an attached lab, similar to what the high school has, so there will be a 42-minute period every day and an attached lab for 42 minutes every other day. The lab will take place during an elective period.”
- They’re going to change the integrated algebra honors to just integrated algebra. The class will be 42 minutes.
- During the elective period, a 10-week health course is being added to the ‘wheel’ and they’re removing service learning out of 8th grade.
- “We’ll have more time in home and careers in 7th grade … (Guidance Department Chair) Mike Mahoney touched base with BOCES and we’re trying to get more career things going so … they can get to high school with a little bit more background in career ideas.”
- “We were able to preserve teaming through the change in the schedule. Next year we’ll have three instead of four teams.” A 7th grade team, 8th grade team and a split team made up of two sections of 7th and three sections of 8th grade.