The Monroe County Community School Corporation announced its awaited high school schedule change for the 2024-25 school year in an email sent to staff, students and families Oct. 20.
In the email, MCCSC Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said the new schedule will feature a hybrid block schedule, meaning classes will rotate on a two-day basis. Class times will be reduced to 60 minutes, and students will now be able to take eight credits per semester. It will also include intervention time, which the email says will allow for consistent academic support.
The schedule change will align the schedules of Bloomington North and South High School, the Bloomington Graduation School and The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship. Currently, Bloomington North is on a block schedule and Bloomington South is on a trimester schedule. The change will put both schools onto a semester-based schedule and will reduce Bloomington North’s current 80-minute classes significantly.
Hauswald said in the email that the schedule changes came from a concern over equity within the school district. In a student experience survey taken by 61.5% of students, he says 38% of Bloomington North students stated classes were too long, with a higher percentage of students on free or reduced lunch responding that classes were overly long.
“As an administrative team charged with implementing an equity-centered strategic plan, status quo is not acceptable when the beneficiaries of the current schedule design are less complex, less diverse, and have fewer exceptions than our overall student body,” the email read.
Hauswald said the new schedule will increase elective opportunities and will make transferring between Bloomington’s high schools easier. According to the email, focus groups with community members will continue as planned, with opportunities to provide feedback and share other ideas for the 2024-25 school year.
Before the schedule change was announced, many students and staff expressed concerns with the prospective change.
Besides word of mouth, most students found out about the schedule change when Bloomington South High School’s newspaper, The Optimist, published an article Sept. 22 in which Hauswald confirmed the schedule change rumors. On Sept. 25, Bloomington North families received a letter from Principal Matthew Stark about the schedule change which, at the time, stated no formal schedule had been designed.
Bloomington North sophomore class co-president Kelton O’Connell said when students found out about the schedule change, they wanted to take action but were not sure how. The students held an open forum on Sept. 29 to talk about the schedule change, voice opinions and ask their principal questions. O’Connell said the administration was supportive and open to hearing student perspectives.
“Instead of getting shut down like we expected, we were asked to change the date so our principal could attend because he said he wanted to be there to see what we were talking about and make himself available to answer any questions,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell said before the announcement that some of the students' concerns were about shortened class times, teachers having to redesign their curriculums and losing tutorial, which is time students can sign up for meetings with teachers or clubs.
“We were able to get a survey sent out to every student at North, so even students who could not make it to the forum could voice their concerns,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell said students made a website to keep students, parents and community members up to date on the situation. The website includes a timeline of all the events involving the schedule change, answers to frequent questions and future events for students to get involved.
Bloomington South junior Jake Cocalis said students at his school had been trying to collaborate with students at Bloomington North to address the situation.
“We do not want the schedule change at all,” Cocalis said before the official schedule change was announced. “If they do force a common schedule, our course of action would be to present data and evidence.”
Before the announcement, a MCCSC faculty member, who asked to remain anonymous due to a contractual requirement forbidding them from making media statements about school operations, said from the teachers’ perspective the biggest concern is that the decision is being made too fast and the necessary steps are not being taken to determine if this is the correct path forward. The faculty member expressed particular concern about the students losing their tutorial time.
“We know that whether they are high performing students who want to take a lot of AP classes or if they are low performing students who need resources to gain credits, they all need that extra class period,” the MCCSC faculty member said. “Any move away from the current schedule is a move away from equity rather than toward equity, which is used as the rationale for doing this.”