From time to time Superintendent John Marschhausen gets stopped on the soccer field, in the grocery store and out to dinner, and gets asked questions about our district. Here are three he has been asked quite a few times in the past week. If you have questions for the superintendent feel free to ask on Twitter @DrJCM or you can email him here.
Why does school start so late this year? Other districts are starting this week?
First things first, we often plan our school years in reverse. We start planning each school year with the contract and dates for graduation. The Ohio State University provides a wonderful location in the Schottenstein Center for us to hold our three graduation ceremonies each year. We enter into a multi-year agreement for graduation; we then work backwards.
The 2015-16 school year is the last year of the past contract. These calendars were created several years ago when calamity days and the need for flexibility with potential “make-up” days for seniors was a concern. As such, graduations were schedule the week after Memorial Day; this provided flexibility in event of a bad winter. With the state shift from minimum days to minimum hours, we have more flexibility with our graduating seniors. Beginning with the graduating class of 2017, and the next contract for graduation, moves graduation to before Memorial Day. Next summer Hilliard will begin school on August 16, 2016 . . . this is the last year for such a late start.
There was a recently released study from the CDC on school start times. Is Hilliard looking at changing our school hours in response to recent studies?
Yes, there have been many studies recently examining the need for young people to get more sleep. These studies consider more than just hours of sleep. Research accounts for biological clocks, risk of health issues, and potential academic benefits – http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0806-school-sleep.html.
In addition to academic responsibilities, your school district also provides social services. For single parents and families with two working parents, our schools provide safe, welcoming, developmentally appropriate places for young people during the day. Any changes or disruption in our school schedule may provide challenges for our working parents. For example, we can’t simply push all start times back an hour . . . it would be unreasonable to start elementary school at 10:05 AM and not end until 4:35 PM. We can’t single route our busses or we would need to double our bus fleet.
The Hilliard City Schools will be looking at all our options. Just because there isn’t a simple solution, doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution. Over the next year we will be reexamining our practices, looking at other districts that have had successful transitions to later start times, and engaging our community. Obviously, not everyone is going to agree with any changes we may make, but we are going to listen to experts, listen to parents, and consider potential changes.
Sixth grade and Middle School students are getting iPads this week? What’s the plan for high school students in the future?
We are excited about this year’s continuation of our One2One iPad program. Our Technology Task Force developed a comprehensive plan two years ago and we are well on our way. To date we are pleased with our implementation and progress. We have encountered some challenges, but our team has been quick to address and correct the issues. The next step – in both practice and planning – is to engage stakeholders concerning our high school One2One options for the 2016-17 school year.
Many of our high school students are engaged in an unofficial BYOD (bring your own device) movement. Our teachers (for the most part) encourage and welcome the technology in the learning space. Our next step is to level the playing field, ensure that every student has a device for instructional purposes, and officially begin One2One at our three high schools. We hope to gather information, engage in productive discussions, and chart our path by the end of December. We will then follow our blueprint to prepare our professional staff for the following year. Our training and professional development are the key. For Hilliard, One2One isn’t merely adding a device to the day. One2One is a metamorphosis in the classroom; One2One is changing instruction, personalizing learning, and preparing students for a digital workforce, university experience, and future world. One2One instruction is a key component of ensuring that every student is truly Ready for Tomorrow.