Monroe County Community School Corporation students, teachers and community members gathered on the Monroe County Courthouse Square on Monday to rally against the lack of collaboration about the new high school schedule change.
MCCSC Superintendent Jeff Hauswald announced the common schedule for the 2024-25 school year in an email to staff, students and families Oct. 20.
The new schedule will be a hybrid block schedule, with the classes rotating on a two-day basis and 60-minute classes. The schedule will include intervention time, which will allow academic support for students, according to the email. The new schedule would mean reducing the length of classes at Bloomington North from 80 minutes to 60 minutes and changing Bloomington South from a trimester to semester-based schedule.
Students and staff were surprised by how quickly the decision was made and were worried that reducing class times would be detrimental to students’ mental health. They also said they are concerned about the reduction of preparation time for teachers and teachers covering more sections, which could reduce full-time positions.
After the schedule was announced, people also gathered at the rally to speak out about the lack of communication and collaboration with students and faculty about the decision.
Students and parents at the rally wore colors of their respective schools, made speeches and handed out flyers to people walking by with information about the schedule change and how they can help. There was a station where people could make signs, which included statements like “collaborate don’t dictate” and “Hauswald you need to listen.”
Marni Karaffa, a parent of a Bloomington South student, said she signed the change.org petition addressed to the school board with a list of concerns, and she has sent emails to board members.
“It just seems like they are trying to do it way too quickly, and there is no transparency,” Karaffa said. “It just seems like they haven’t listened to the students, teachers or parents and their concerns for what the schedule change could mean for them.”
Karaffa said her son relies on Panther Plus, a study hall period where students can sign up for a teacher and get extra help, to catch up on work and for practice time for band. Under the new schedule, Panther Plus will be replaced with intervention time. She said she also has a seventh grader and is concerned about how this schedule change will affect him when he goes to South.
“Change is hard for anybody, but this just seems so sudden,” Karaffa said. “These teachers work so hard, and they have the best interest for all of our students, and it doesn’t seem like they are being considered at all.”
The first to speak at the rally was Bloomington South junior Jake Cocalis. He said Hauswald didn't consult parents, teachers and students enough when making the decision.
“What Hauswald fails to recognize is that if he wants equity, our current scheduling is optimal for equity,” Cocalis said. “We have had enough, and that is why we are here today.”
Before the speeches, a few people in the crowd chanted “MCCSC listen to community!” Throughout the rally, cars driving on Walnut Street honked their horns in support, including an MCCSC school bus.
Bloomington North sophomore Nicole McIntosh said she is in four different band classes and the schedule change will decrease how much time they will have to warm up and practice.
“We have voices, and we will use them no matter what it takes,” McIntosh said. “You will listen to us whether you want to or not, we will not stop until we have the justice that we deserve.”
Bloomington South junior Zoe Gray said students just want their opinions to matter and the decision made them feel like they don’t.
“We wanted to be collaborated with, and a big problem with this was that we were out of the picture entirely when it is affecting us directly,” Gray said.
Gray also gave the final speech at the rally which stressed the importance of the students, parents, faculty and community members fighting against the change.
“I want to thank the students for demanding their education be taken into consideration, our teachers for being brave enough to speak out against administration and the parents and community members for caring, noticing and hearing, we see you and thank you endlessly,” Gray said in her speech. “This is what it looks like to be unified.”