School schedule raises concerns | AspenTimes.com

School schedule raises concerns

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

Some concerned parents of students at Aspen High School have been circulating a letter that addresses the new class-scheduling system at the high school. The letter was given to the Board of Education on Friday and requests that the board evaluate the scheduling system and, if appropriate, take a more proactive role in protecting the interests of the students.

The board will have an opportunity to address the parents' concerns at a Board of Education meeting Monday at 4 p.m.

Aspen High began a four-period schedule this year on four of the five school days, with classes running either 90 or 95 minutes. The new scheduling puts an emphasis on math being taught five days a week as the school looks to improve students' overall math skills.

According to the letter, the new schedule is too rigid and took away a tutorial period from students, along with their ability to meet with teachers during the day to discuss any concerns.

By 6 p.m. Friday evening, 88 parents had signed up in support of the letter.

Aspen School District Superintendent John Maloy said any scheduling changes will be a high school matter and aren't up to the board.

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"We recognize there's an issue," Maloy said. "Will it be addressed in a week's time? Probably not. But there is a conversation taking place, and will continue to take place, on how best to solve this issue. The challenge is coming up with a workable solution."

At a parents breakfast on Sept. 23, high school Principal Kim Martin addressed the scheduling issue and said she was looking at the situation.

"What I offered parents at the parents breakfast last week and what I've offered students is help in solving the problem," Martin said. "High school schedules are very changeable. I'm happy to explore any suggestions or improvements that anyone can offer that does not negatively impact instruction. If we can stay within our instructional goals and we can make changes to provide free time, let's do it. I'm all about it. I couldn't be happier to provide that. However, we do have certain minimum requirements that must be met."

The letter also pointed out how the new schedule takes away time for elective classes and extracurricular activities, such as clubs, especially for students with obligations right after school. It also indicates that the parents are looking for a more active role from the board to ensure that the values of the school reflect those of the community.

Maloy was quick to point out that the current board has been incredibly active in regard to student achievement and student growth.

"They were very much on board with the nine-month conversation about math specifically and the fact that our scores were not where we believe they need to be," he said. "It's just not scores; it's making sure our kids are prepared for their future. I'm a little disappointed because parents certainly weren't present at the board meetings when all these conversations were going on. They certainly could have contributed during those multiple months where we're discussing those issues. It's a little misguided in that our board has not been involved; they've been very, very involved."

Martin met with the math department head on Friday to discuss the new scheduling.

"She was not in favor of having tutorial returned to the schedule because of the impact it would have on their minutes and instructional time," Martin said. "She realizes the math department is being monitored this year. We're really looking to make sure that math instruction is changing and we're getting more bang for our buck since we changed our schedule to accommodate more math time."

Maloy said he also was dismayed that the letter went beyond Martin despite the fact that she told the parents at the breakfast that she was looking into the situation. He also said Friday afternoon that neither he nor Martin actually received a copy of the letter.

"I understand not every parent attended the breakfast," he said. "It's disappointing that the individuals who can have the most immediate impact, and certainly the ones who will be driving the change, are the ones that didn't even receive a copy of the letter."

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com

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