O-D holds community meeting on balanced calendar, other changes

Oregon-Davis Superintendent Greg Briles welcomed more than 100 interested citizens, teachers and students to a special community meeting April 3. A variety of topics were presented, including the proposed balanced school calendar as well as other plans at the elementary and junior/senior high schools.
“It’s not a done deal,” said Briles of the balanced calendar. “It wouldn’t take effect until the 2015-2016 school year.” He added that comments received at Knox and North Judson-San Pierre showed a 70 to 80 percent approval rating, “But we will do what the people at O-D want.”
The balanced calendar is being considered for all but one of the schools who participate in the area co-op that provides vocational and special education to area schools. In addition to Knox, NJ-SP and O-D in Starke County, Culver, Plymouth, Argos, John Glenn and Triton are other schools in the co-op considering the balanced calendar. Coordination of vocational and special education would be difficult if not all schools are on the same basic calendar.
The proposed calendar is not year-round, and still has two months off during the summer, but provides three two-week breaks during the school year. The longer breaks in the fall and spring would allow time for remediation as needed, while still allowing more family time. Schools that already have changed to a balanced calendar have seen improvement in a number of ways. Rochester and Maconaquah schools, as well as several schools around Indianapolis have documented results.
Questions from the public at O-D were similar to those discussed at Knox and NJ-SP, and included topics such as : how the remediation periods would work, the effects on sports schedules and attendance at the State Fair or other major events.
O-D Elementary Principal William Bennett presented proposed changes to the schedule for 2014-2015 that will increase the frequency of physical education, music, art and computer and swimming time. At the present time, these activities are scheduled for a full week at a time. The new schedule would schedule PE, music and art/computer twice a week, and swimming every Friday.
“There’s tons of research on arts and physical education on student achievement,” Bennett said. “There’s also evidence that art and computer can be integrated to allow art to be displayed.”
Bennett also provided information on improvements in IREAD3 test results, particularly with students who had attended O-D for four years. Over the four-year period, out of the 120 students who took the test, 112, or 93 percent, passed the literacy test.
Junior-Senior High School Principal Tim Pletcher addressed scheduling changes and new Project Lead the Way engineering classes. The schedule changes include moving the resource period to the middle of the day rather than the beginning, and adding five minutes to the first four classes that focus on core classes of math, science, social studies and English.
Plans also include moving some classes to a common physical area to create a team approach for core classes. “We want to facilitate bridging the gap for a smooth transition from elementary to junior high,” Pletcher said. “The changes also will engender a team spirit between junior and senior high.”
Implementation of Project Lead the Way will add Gateway to Technology in junior high to engage students in creative problem solving, using real-world software and tools for science, math and technology. Students then are prepared for Pathway to Engineering in high school, which provides opportunities for students to think critically, work collaboratively and explore how math and science are applied in the engineering and design process.
A proposed technology plan also was presented to maintain the needed technology for the future.
For more information on any of the topics discussed at the community meeting, go to www.od.k12.in.us and click on the Q&A tab to submit questions.