Michele Gambrel 0

EJH Schedule Changes

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Dear Darien District 61 Parents,

We wanted to bring an important change that has been approved for implementation effective for the 2017-2018 school year at Eisenhower Jr. High School to the attention of all families in Darien District 61. At the January 24, 2017 school board meeting, Mr. Jacob Buck, Eisenhower Jr. High School principal presented a plan to the school board to add a "math block" to the school day. The plan includes the following:

Schedule Changes

  • 10th period added to the school day
  • All periods shortened three minutes from 41 to 38 minutes
  • Passing period shortened by 1 minute from 4 to 3 minutes
  • School day starts at 7:49 a.m. instead of 7:50 a.m.
  • ALL Students receive two periods of Math (which will now also include about 15 minutes for homeroom and announcements)
  • Electives (Art, Computer Education, Band, Choir, Spanish, Family & Consumer Science) and PE remain one period each. Each student will be allowed 2 electives.
  • All students have 6 core/academic classes together and then PE and electives back to back either just before or just after core/academic classes.
  • LA/Reading remains two periods
  • Lunch remains 30 minutes
  • Teachers will now teach 7 instead of 6 periods each day. The 7th class is either an enrichment or intervention.
    • Intervention classes are for LA/Reading or Math. Students will test into this
    • Enrichment classes are additional courses taught by Science and SS teachers. Courses and curriculums have not been determined.
  • Band will now take place during grade electives times
    • 6th grade during 1st period
    • 7th grade during 8th period (tentatively)
    • 8th grade during 6th period (tentatively)
  • 5th grade students continue to come Tues, Thurs, and Fri to form Concert Band with all 6th grade students.
  • All bands are decided by grade. There is no possibility of advanced 6th grade students auditioning into the advanced band. There is no possibility of inexperienced 7th or 8th grade musicians being in the intermediate level Concert Band.
  • A plan needs to be developed for how all band students would be able practice for Marching Band.

No notification was sent to the parents of students in District 61 prior to the board meeting to allow everyone the opportunity to hear Mr. Buck's presentation. The 5 parents in attendance were given the opportunity to express their concerns to the board and Mr. Buck, however we were told we would not be given a response. As was stated by Dr. Carlo at the May school board meeting when Mr. Buck originally presented the math block concept, the school board does not make decisions on curriculum changes at a school. The school principal makes the decision.

The parents at the meeting had the following concerns after hearing the presentation

Math Block:

- Why do ALL students need the math block?

- What prompted this change? What is the goal for the school / each group of students? (Those struggling / those meeting expectations / those exceeding expectations and in the advance math class)

-If we understood correctly, students who need math intervention could potentially have 3 math periods per day. Can you imagine a struggling child sitting in math for 3 periods?! This lengthy amount of math time may cause even greater frustration and stress.

- Could it be mandatory for those students who are struggling to take an extra math class in place of 1 elective course, rather than change the entire schedule for ALL students?

-We could not determine what the criteria is for the students who need the interventions

-It is not clear how many students currently require the interventions

-What has already been done to help these struggling students? Has anything worked? Is there any data you can share?

-It was stated there is not a plan for what types of programs and interventions will be used (it’s being created in 2017-2018). There is research that shows increased math time alone DOES NOT improve scores. Best practices in math interventions that are researched based has not been established by the teachers.

-Have the principals at DeLay and Lace discussed the math issues with Mr. Buck? What is being done at DeLay and Lace to address the math curriculum to prepare the kids for the program at EJH? It needs to start at Kindergarten; changes in Jr. High aren’t going to fix everything.

-This new plan requires 3 new math teachers to be hired. Why can we just hire more math teachers and give the struggling students smaller class sizes with more individualized attention?

Shortened Class Time:

The proposed change would require student’s class time being reduced by 3 minutes for each period to allow for the addition of a 10th class period.

-Over the course of a school year: 3 minutes/day x 180 days equals 540 minutes of class time lost, which is 9 hours, which is 14 school days, -- approximately 3 weeks of school. When will the teachers be able to teach the content they normally teach during that 3 weeks?

-For PE, once you factor in changing their clothes in/out of their uniform, they’ll have about 20 minutes to participate in physical activity. Are their state guidelines on how long a child must have PE each day?

-Has any thought been given to the fact the students will have less preparation in these subject areas when they enter high school and are competing with the students from the other feeder schools?

-Have there been any conversations with faculty at DGS and HSHS regarding the proposed changes to the math, science and social studies teachers?


The presentation showed a sample schedule. ALL academics are back to back and all electives are blocked together. There are many concerns with this set-up.

-What student wants to, or is able to sit in academics for 5 hours straight? Will teachers be trained on how to teach students with appropriate "brain breaks"?

-Research shows this is not a good way for students to learn.

-Not only is it not good for students, but what about teachers? Legally, a teacher is not allowed to use the rest room when students are in their classroom. If they are required to teach 6 periods back to back, how will they even have time for a bathroom break or to regroup?

What are the other Jr. high/middle schools (that feed into DGS/HSHS) doing?

Cass Gower O'Neill Jefferson Lakeview Burr Ridge

Start time: 8:45 7:45 8:33 8:10 8:05 8:00

End time: 3:30 2:50 3:15 3:25 3:11 3:15

Class length: 45 45 46 45 42 50

2 per English Y Y Y Y Y Y

2 per Math Y N N N N N

Jefferson said kids who need math help have an extra period in place of an elective class.

School Board

Dr. Carlo mentioned all parent concerns that were raised at the spring board meeting have been taken into consideration with this plan. This plan allows the students to keep their 2 elective classes which is great, however it also raises new concerns.

Dr. Carlo stated the only way to make all of it happen is to lengthen the school day and that is not possible at this time. Parents understand the school day can’t be lengthened. Most parents would prefer offering extra math time in exchange for 1 elective course.

Parents at the board meeting were told all the teachers at EJH support this plan. We have heard that the teachers DO NOT SUPPORT THIS PLAN.

It is VERY concerning that this major restructure is taking place for all students and none of these questions have been answered first. It does not appear there is a clear, well thought out strategic plan in place prior to making a decision to move forward with re-structuring the schedule that affects ALL students and ALL staff.

If you share the same concerns listed above and would like to request a community meeting with Mr. Buck to respond to these concerns prior to implementation of the new plan, please sign the petition.

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