High school principal gives restructuring update

As+part+of+the+potential+restructure%2C+the+Communications+and+Secondary+Computer+Applications+courses+will+be+eliminated+and+replaced+with+seminar+courses+for+freshmen+and+sophomores.%0A

As part of the potential restructure, the Communications and Secondary Computer Applications courses will be eliminated and replaced with seminar courses for freshmen and sophomores.

Cole Skuse, Business Manager/News Editor

As a part of the March 5 meeting of school board directors, high school principal William Deal delivered a presentation regarding updates on the restructuring process that is ongoing in the high school. 

To start the presentation, Deal began with a diagram that shows the process of restructuring, much like he has in the past. This includes five steps: set the direction, assess needs, create a plan, implement a plan and monitor and adjust the course. Currently, the high school is sitting around the “asses needs” and “create plan” stages.

Deal then shared how the district had been collecting data on what needs within the high school through meetings with teachers and “Feedback Fridays” that assistant high school principal Steven Mott has been conducting with students throughout the year. These Feedback Fridays consist of asking students four main questions: “What does our school do great?”, “How can our school improve?”, “What do you dream our school can be?” and “What can you personally do to make our school a better place?” Using the data from these meetings along with teacher feedback and suggestions, a restructuring plan was created.

Deal then discussed some of the outcomes of the data collection. One of them was what he called “The Power of ‘Nothing.’” Many times when students were asking what the school could do better, the response would be “nothing.” To Deal, this signaled that the school is already doing at least an adequate job providing for students; however, there is always room to grow. 

Next, Deal launched into a section preceded by the phrase “We Used Too…” This section discussed what the high school looked like in 2010, including staff and student enrollment numbers. Using a yearbook from 2010, Deal went through and created charts showing the difference in staffing across 10 years by department. For instance, for core subjects, math went from six to four, English went six to five, history went from five to four and science went from five to four. 

Along the way, Deal elaborated on some of the statistics, such as the current math department having a teacher who also serves as Athletic Director. He counted some positions as half or third positions due to the same person covering multiple positions or some staff members not being at the high school full time.

Deal then presented a slide that summed up all of these differences across the past 10 years. In 2010, there were 539 students, 39 teaching staff and 12 academic support staff. Currently, there are 430 students (20.2% reduction), 28.75 teaching staff (26.3% reduction) and 6.66 academic support staff (44.5% reduction). 

To conclude the presentation, Deal shared a potential restructuring plan. The first part involved moving some teachers around within the high school. Technology teacher Tom Hickey would move to teach math, English teacher Blair Lasko would move to become the librarian and communications teacher Emily Skirtich would move to teach English 10. As a result of these moves, the Secondary Computer Applications and Communications courses would most likely be eliminated from the school curriculum and study halls would be moved to the math department instead of the English department.

To replace those courses, Deal introduced the concept of seminar courses. These courses would be held in the library and students would be taught a variety of concepts through classwork and speakers. This would include concepts like financial literacy and skills currently covered in communications and computer applications. 

Other suggested changes included changing the way social studies electives are scheduled for more flexibility, including the potential addition of true crime and general psychology classes. The way the Biology course track currently works would also change. Students would all be taking biology in one year following a general science course covering chemistry, biology and physics ideas. This is to better prepare students for the Keystone tests. The last proposal was to add some pilot courses in technology to try to add more variety to the current offerings at Freedom.

Following the presentation, Deal took questions from the board. The presentation that Deal delivered is currently available on the school website for public viewing on the homepage.