The Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) Board is expected to select a new schedule for the high school during its meeting Thursday, a switch that may decrease the amount of teacher contact time students receive during the school day.
The board was presented at its last meeting with a schedule recommended by high school teachers. The hybrid five-period recommended schedule would allow teachers a 90-minute prep period for half the year.
The schedule change was requested to address several problems with the current trimester system. The current schedule does not allow students to take more than one math course per year, resulting in a situation in which juniors often have not taken a relevant math course prior to taking the graduation math test. WAPS students also receive the least amount of instructional time in the Big 9 conference — currently about 260 minutes per day of teacher contact time of the 300 minutes allowed in the teachers' union contract. School begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m.
The new schedule recommended by teachers is uncommon, implemented only at Forest Lake High School. It provides for three, 50-minute "skinny" classes and two 90-minute "block" periods.
Teachers currently spend 260 minutes per school day teaching. Under the hybrid five-period schedule, they would spend 240 minutes teaching for half of the year and 280 the other.
Board members asked that administrators come up with a list of ways that teachers could spend the bulk of that prep time with students, such as instructing small groups in other teachers' classrooms who need extra help. The board also asked for information on a six-period, two-semester schedule, one that would provide for 275 minutes of teaching per day.
Information on the six-period, two-semester schedule was not included in the agenda packet. The board will meet Thursday at Winona City Hall at 6 p.m.