Next year students at L.J. Hauser Junior High School will receive more instruction in math.
Math will be a double period — 80 minutes — at Hauser next year in response to a recommendation of the master scheduling committee, which is made up of administrators, teachers, and parents.
The double dose of math is part of the continuing efforts to prepare District 96 students for the more rigorous expectations of the new Common Core curriculum. It will allow for deeper and richer math curriculum, according to Hauser Principal Steve Juracka.
“I think 80 minutes is a significant amount of time that will allow us to do things above what other people are doing,” Juracka said last month at a meeting of the education committee of the District 96 school board.
This year, Hauser implemented a double period for English/language arts, a move that administrators deem a success.
School board members endorsed the proposal for the double period of math.
“The importance of this cannot be overstated,” said board member Juliet Boyd said.
Preliminary plans call for the Hauser school day to begin about 30 minutes earlier than it does now, moving the start time up to 8:05 a.m. from the current 8:35 a.m. start time to provide for additional time for the double period for math.
The earlier start time is raising concerns for Hauser parents who live in the Hollywood section of Brookfield. The school day at Riverside-Brookfield High School begins at 8 a.m., and congestion around the high school will make it harder for students from Hollywood to get to school on time, some parents say.
“It’s going to be very hard for us to get our kids there on time,” said Jennifer Perry, the mother of a Hauser seventh-grader.
Perry’s husband, Art, is a member of the District 96 Board of Education. At the Jan. 20 meeting of the school board, Art Perry said that he supported increasing instructional time on core subjects, but warned administrators not to think of Hauser in a vacuum. Juracka said any concerns about the start time would be addressed.
All changes in the school day are tentative, because a new contract is being negotiated between District 96 and the teachers’ union. Lengthening the school day will have to be part of a new collective bargaining agreement that will go into effect next year.
As part of the proposal presented to the school board, band and orchestra will be moved from their status as before-school extracurricular activities to a class during the school day.
The current advisory period may be shortened by 10 minutes. Presently, band and orchestra members practice during the advisory period on occasion.
A consultant hired by the school district last year called for the elimination of the advisory period, but that does not seem likely to happen. School board members asked Juracka how he feels about the advisory period. Juracka said he thinks it is valuable, especially for students who struggle with organization.
“I think that it’s valuable,” Juracka said. “I think that many of my colleagues in [special education] would agree.”
Doubling the math period and moving orchestra/band into the school day would result in fewer elective course offerings at Hauser.
“I would be hiring additional math teachers, potentially, and hiring fewer elective teachers,” Juracka said.
The lunch period at Hauser next year will be shortened by five minutes to 25 minutes in order to free up time for the additional math instruction.
In 2015-16 there will be three lunch periods at Hauser, as each grade will have its own lunch. Presently, there are two lunch periods at Hauser.