Changes for the 2020 school year

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DMPS changes for the 2019-20 school year have left students, teachers and parents clueless and wanting answers. There are changes with scheduling due to budget cuts. These decisions being made have a big impact on how DMPS schools are going to run for students, teachers and parents for the next few years, so they need answers and they need them now.

Reactions

When the news first came out about the schedule changing from A/B block to seven periods, everyone had different reactions. Some, happy for a change and others, not so happy. Just the year before, the school board announced new adjustments of times for all school levels. Students are wondering why this new revision when there was one just last year? “When I first heard about the new schedule, I was irritated because our schedule just had a change this year and I was confused, and I also heard that there will be less classes next year and it might affect my Central classes I’m taking next year,” sophomore Saham Salim said. Many believe that this change will just cause more confusion and that their options are being taken away. “I am worried because it gives students fewer opportunities to take classes and therefore effects elective classes like mine, so when fewer students get the option to sign up for electives than choices become fewer so I’m worried about that and since I believe in educational acuity and kids in other districts have more opportunities that kids in DMPS schools are getting fewer and fewer opportunities of,” Claire Orlando, French teacher at East said.

Disadvantages and Advantages

Most people students have negative comments about the proposed schedule. For example, that this new schedule will take away elective options and that it is hard to go to the same classes back to back. Students are concerned about the homework. There are also some advantages of the new schedule. “I think it’s great that kids will have shorter classes because it’s hard to focus for 90 minutes on one thing,” Orlando said. Studies show that students have a 10- to 15-minute attention span during lectures. The school board took another approach in their reasoning and support of the change. “The current block schedule structure can mean that a teacher and student see each other only two and at best three times a week and if a student is absent that presents an even larger gap between each class time,” Elsbernd Cindy, school broad spokesperson said. Also, the schedule will be more convenient for families by having consistent school dismissal times the
whole year. “I kind of think we should go back to the seven blocks schedule because I like it and honestly it makes the day go by faster and I remember we had it in middle school,” junior Tyler Bernaraino said. The schedule sounds great right? But there is one huge flaw, no one has the answers to what classes are available, so don’t even bother trying to set up a schedule for next year. According to the DMPS board seven period schedules are expected to be complete early May, due to dynamics of Central Campus and Central Academy. “The nursing class I’m supposed to take at Central might not even happen because my counselor doesn’t even know what will be available and I might need to drop some core classes to take it,” Salim said when asked about her concerns about the schedule. The finale decision for this new schedule took some time. “That committee made a recommendation to the Superintendent last fall to make a change to a modified block schedule. The committee then took the proposal to student focus groups and high school building leaders for feedback and met with each high school’s School Leadership Team. Some modifications were made to the original proposal to become what the Superintendent ultimately decided to use beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. The school board entrusts the Superintendent to make such decisions to achieve the expectations set by the Board,” Elsbernd said. Other districts have the same set up for their school schedule and are having much success.

School funding/Budget cuts

One of the biggest problems for next year and even right now will be budget cuts and school funding. This impacts the students directly because teachers and classes are being cut. New state money available to schools was growing 3.27 percent annually until around 2010. Since then, it has dropped to 1.73 percent, according to The Des Moines Register. So, schools are basically losing money and can’t afford to keep teachers and they cut electives. “We did have to make a cut in FCS due to lower course requests in that area. However, we are able to add in art because of increased student requests,” Jill Versteeg said. The school really pays attention to what the majority of the students want. “A lot of rules and restrictions in how that money (SSA) school districts receive from the state can be spent and last year that meant DMPS was $14 million short in funding our schools were everything we were doing to be kept the same. This year, DMPS is about $24 million short if we were to keep doing things the same. It’s against the
law to use more money than what the schools receive. So, the district has no choice but to look for ways to save money and not to break the law,” said Elsbernd. But Why try to fix the mistakes if the damage is already done? Will school funding continue to decline? “Even with the slight increase schools were able to get this year from the state, we are in a situation where years of neglectful spending in education will take a long time to dig out from and provide what is needed for schools, students and teachers,” said Jill Versteeg administrator at East High School. If we can all agree on one thing it is that school funding affects students because such great teachers that we have affection for and classes we enjoy going to are being taken away. The teachers have a big impact on the students. “I think that it is very sad that the first thing that the state decides to cut is the education budget I don’t think it’s fair to the students. We are trying to teach the next generation of kids and I think taking away education will create a bad society,” Sarah Brankis, Geometry teacher at East said. “I do answer a lot of questions about me being excessed, that’s the only thing that affects me as a teacher daily. But it’s not going to change the way I teach. My job is to be here for you guys and nothing’s going to change that,” Brankis said. The effects of budget cuts are being felt by everyone, but a few teachers in particular, were excessed and will have to get new jobs next year. The teachers mean a lot to the students and they help them get ready for the hard world. They always push the kids to be the best that they can be and honestly, they do way more than what they signed up for. The classes being cut are classes that these kids can show their creativity and would help them become a leader. I hope that DMPS can take these words in to account because these students are really are the new generation.

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