By Kassie Boyd and Nick Archacki, editor-in-chief and news editor
Members of the PENNCREST community can expect to see big changes next school year if the 18-month plan proposed by the district’s administrative team and Superintendent Dr. Timothy Glasspool passes a school board vote slated for March 14.
These modifications (originally proposed at the Jan. 10 school board meeting) were presented again during a public forum at Cambridge Springs High School on Jan. 24. Dr. Glasspool shared the administrative vision for PENNCREST and took feedback from students, staff, and parents.
One major change suggested by the administrative team is the transition from a traditional eight-period day to seven-periods with a hybrid block schedule in order to increase instructional time and eliminate the scheduling complications of double lab periods for upper level science classes.
On Wednesdays, students will have four 85 minute periods, while the remaining three periods and a tutorial block will follow on Thursday. Monday, Tuesday and Friday will resemble a traditional schedule with 52-minute periods, an increase in class time from the current 42-minute periods. According to Dr. Glasspool, this new schedule will provide the equivalent of an additional 15 days of educational time.
However, before this one-year hybrid block pilot is implemented, it must be approved by teachers belonging to the PENNCREST Area Education Association (PAEA) because it would require a modification to the current teaching contract.
Pennsylvania mandates a minimum of 21 credits to graduate, while PENNCREST has long required 28.5. The proposed plan includes a three-credit reduction in the requirement to put the district more in line with the other schools in Crawford County (Cochranton 25.7, Meadville 26, Conneaut Area 26.5).
A new, district-wide uniform grading scale is set to be introduced alongside the new student information system PowerSchool. The new grading scale will be based on increments of ten: 100-90, 90-80, 80-70, 70-60.
The district intends to combat declining enrollment by offering students options like AP classes, credits for volunteerism, and co-op and dual enrollment opportunities. “We have to leverage out our smallness,” Dr. Glasspool said. It is also hoped that the proposed plan may convince some of the 152 students currently enrolled in cyber schools to return to schools in the district.
Juniors in Mrs. Hetrick’s AP Language and Composition class weighed the pros and cons of the administration’s vision. Concerns include the direction of the music program and students’ ability to focus on one subject for 85 minutes. Several students commented that the new schedule would permit them to take more electives as it would eliminate the issue of scheduling around double lab periods.
It is important to note that the proposed hybrid block schedule is quite common. Members of the Panther Press contacted every district within the IU5 and inquired about their bell schedule, and a majority of schools employ some variation of a block.
The proposed changes will be put voted on during the March 14 school board meeting at Cambridge Springs Elementary School at 7 p.m. provided that the plan is approved by the PAEA. If you have questions or concerns, the next school board work session is Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at Central Office in Saegertown. You can also send your thoughts to Dr. Glasspool at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Infographic by Kaitlyn Kozalla, features editor