Superintendent Patrick Murphy said he will delay a proposal to put Arlington’s middle schools to block schedules to allow time for more community input.
In an email sent to the district’s listserv, Murphy said he was responding to discussions and protests that the board was progressing too quickly toward the longer-class schedule. He wrote that he would present the proposal to the Arlington Public Schools Board for a vote in May instead of March.
“Over the past several days, there has been a great deal of discussion about middle school scheduling. I want you to know that we appreciate the feedback and concerns that have been expressed, and we are taking this into consideration as we move forward,” Murphy wrote.
APS has also added three community forums to two that were already scheduled to help answer parents’ question, he said. Block scheduling doubles most class lengths and moves them to every other day, reducing the number of classes students attend each day and giving them longer periods for projects and in-depth learning.
If approved, the block schedules would double most class times for core subject to up to 93 minutes and move them to every other day, and reduce the number of classes students attend each day
“I think it's a show of good faith on the part of Superintendent Murphy, APS Staff and the School Board that they are listening to parents in the community,” said Katy Banks, who helped form a group last week called Arlington Parents for Effective Scheduling in Schools to protest what she felt was a rushed decision on block teaching.
“I'm thrilled that they are adding community forums for more feedback,” said Banks in an email. “However, I still have a lot of questions about what they're doing with the feedback and how the final schedule will be decided.”
Banks protested last week that the proposed schedule cuts middle school music class time for sixth graders and would hurt band, orchestra and choral ensembles by dividing them by grade, not by ability. About 50 parents attended the first meeting of APES Schools at Central Library on Saturday express concern about the proposal and agitate to revise the plan.
School Board President Abby Raphael said the class schedule proposal released recently on the APS website is a working model that hasn’t been presented to the board and may not be the final schedule. The program is to take effect in September 2013, giving time to redesign the schedule as well as train teachers to use the longer class time.
If approved, the block schedules would double most class times for core subject to up to 93 minutes and move them to every other day, and reduce the number of classes students attend each day.