During the recession of 2008-10, the William Floyd School District experienced many painful reductions to staffing and programs for students. Among those reductions was the nine-period day at both middle schools. Since that time, the district has been strategically and systematically restoring programs for students that are beneficial and can be sustained on a yearly basis. With these changes and restorations, the district has achieved an 86% graduation rate (August 2018) with the goal of achieving 90% and beyond in the near future (up from approximately 72% after the recession and 62% in 2006-07). With the ultimate goal of increasing the graduation rate, the district is trying a multi-faceted K-12 approach to get the district to the next level.
Please note that the district has tweaked its plan and the new proposal will continue to offer extra help in its present form. Additionally, if this proposal is accepted by the Board of Education, it will be part of the budget pending community approval on May 21. Please see below for details.
What is the purpose of a nine-period day at the middle schools?
The goal is to increase proficiency for students at all levels and provide each one with the same or better opportunities that students have in other school districts. The district researched higher-performing districts and districts with similar socio-economic conditions, and the results have shown that nine-period days are more effective in preparing students for high school and beyond. The proposed nine-period day will increase student-teacher interaction time to approximately 6 hours and 28 minutes (from 6 hours and 13 minutes) with a 25-30-minute extra help period available after school (see next question for additional information on extra help). This change, if adopted by the Board of Education and approved by voters on May 21 as part of the overall budget, will include built-in academic support in classes, engaging academic electives and the opportunity for all students to have a lunch period (currently 946 middle school students do not have a dedicated lunch period).
Will extra help still be offered?
The original plan was to provide nine 43-minute periods with built-in academic support in classes with afterschool homework support in the core subjects which would have been teacher stipend positions. However, after further consideration based on the feedback of our community, the plan has been tweaked to include nine 40-minute periods with a 25-30-minute extra help period at the end of the day. This extra help will maintain the same form that it has since its inception at the middle schools this year.
What types of electives will be offered?
The district is proposing engaging high-interest academic electives. In the first year, those courses will be focused on mathematics in sixth grade, ELA (English Language Arts) support in seventh grade, and math and science in eighth grade. Samples of courses include “Computer Know How” (Microsoft Office Suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), Personal Finance, Math Concepts through Games, Introduction to Research and more. During the second year and subsequent years, the district will offer even more courses which could focus on coding, career and technical education exploration courses with pathways to the high school CTE program, creative writing, criminal justice, debate, engineering, history, poetry, theater and more.
Why don’t we just stay with an eight-period day – it seems to be working just fine?
Currently, the district is only meeting the minimum state requirements for student-teacher interaction time at the middle schools. The additional period will provide more opportunities for students which will help them be better prepared for high school and beyond. It is common in New York that high-performing middle schools have nine period school days. We don’t want to be “just fine.” We want to build and maintain a culture of excellence. Our goal as a district is to become high performing at all levels which will continue to increase the graduation rate.
Are you doing this just to make sure each student has a dedicated lunch period?
We are not doing this solely to ensure all students have a lunch period. However, it is important that students are able to have a dedicated period in which they can eat. Children, much like adults at a job, need a lunch break during the day. While all students currently have the opportunity to eat lunch even without a dedicated lunch period, we believe that providing students with a dedicated lunch period to eat and take a break will be beneficial to their learning. This is especially important in a district with a common wealth ratio of 0.51 (state average is 1.0) and a free or reduced lunch rate of 60% districtwide.
Are you saying that kids aren’t eating lunch?
No. We are saying that 946 students do not have a designated lunch period to take a break, eat and recharge for the rest of their day. Currently, some students (single/double performers, AIS, resource room) have the opportunity to leave one of their periods to get lunch and many do so. However, this practice takes away from valuable instruction time for the student getting lunch and also may serve as a distraction to other students in the class. This set-up is not conducive to optimal learning.
Will this be voted on at the next BOE meeting or as part of the budget?
This proposal, which will be presented at the Tuesday, February 12, BOE meeting, is up for consideration by the Board. If this proposal is accepted by the Board, it will then be included as part of the overall budget vote on May 21 decided by our community. This proposal is designed to increase proficiency in ELA and mathematics; improve student achievement; increase mastery level on Regents exams; strengthen student social and emotional development; improve the transition to high school; increase the graduation rate and more. The ultimate goal is ensure that our students have the same – if not better – opportunities as their peers in other districts across Long Island and New York State, which will set them up for success in high school and beyond.
When is this being presented to the Board of Education and the public?
This proposal is currently on the agenda for the next Board of Education meeting, Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 7:30 pm in the William Floyd High School library. The address is 240 Mastic Beach Road, Mastic Beach, NY, 11951. A budget advisory committee is scheduled for the same evening at 7 pm. Please consider attending either or both.
Questions or concerns?
If you have any questions focused on the nine-period day at the middle schools, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.