LWV-MDC Education Report – May 2019
The new MCS School Board will soon complete its first school year. As of the April 23 meeting, they had met one time at each of the district’s school buildings. A school presentation started each meeting, giving the board and attendees the opportunity to learn about the culture and situation of each school. They heard musical groups and reflections from students and teachers. Most principals presented statistics demonstrating the strengths and needs of their building. Common to all presentations: a strong pride in their school and an opportunity for parents and students to share their stories with the Board.
One of the first actions of the Board last fall was the establishment of a Student Advisory Council (SAC) at Central High School; that group of amazing students reported several times in the past months. Three of their suggestions:
*Later start times for middle and high school (research supports this suggestion)
*Increased use of e-learning (pointing out that surrounding school systems use it)
*Implementation of block scheduling.
The latter will probably not happen in the near future, as block scheduling costs more than traditional scheduling. While MCS finances are more stable, increasing teacher salaries has to be at the top of the list.
At the last meeting, Interim Superintendent Steve Edwards indicated that later secondary start times are under consideration for the 2020-21 school year. The Board may want to investigate the tardiness at Southside Middle School that refers most students to Saturday School. Would a later start time decrease first period tardiness?
The Board moved immediately on e-learning as the best way to make up snow days, and by the end of May the system will complete three days of make up with e-learning. Assistant Superintendent Chuck Reynolds reported on April 23 that the first e-learning day went well, with 90% participation/work completion by elementary students and 70-83% for secondary students. There appears to be a commitment to grow and develop the e-learning process, and in the future the corporation will schedule a Saturday e-learning day after each lost snow day. Everyone agrees that e-learning days are preferable to tacking on additional days at the end of the school year.
The SAC continues to challenge the Board with ideas. On April 23 President George Schafer suggested the Board investigate a 4-day school week, with the fifth day supplemented by e-learning, community volunteer work/internships, or other learning activities tailored to individual student needs.
As it comes to the end of its first year, the SAC is working on ways to generate continuing student representation, including recognition that members this first year came largely from successful and more privileged students. One goal is to include representation from students for whom the educational system has been more challenging, as ideas from those students should be valued and heard.
One goal is to include representation from students for whom the educational system has been more challenging, as ideas from those students should be valued and heard.