Proposed schedule changes revisited at Tipp BOE work session

By Blythe Alspaugh

[email protected]

TIPP CITY — Teachers and administrators from Tippecanoe Middle and High Schools spoke before the Tipp City School Board Monday regarding recent proposed schedule changes for the upcoming academic year.

The initial proposed schedule change includes a weekly early release for TMS and THS students every Wednesday, with TMS students being dismissed at 1:30 p.m. and THS students dismissed at 1:40 p.m., giving staff members an hour of common planning time each week on Wednesdays. Additionally, building principals would be able to create a monthly schedule with structured meetings and expectations for staff members during the common planning time.

This proposed change failed at the April 25 board meeting due to some board members expressing that while the idea was good, they felt that having a two-hour planning period once or twice a month would be more proactive and have less impact with the academic schedule.

THS Principal Daniel Barnes asserted at Monday’s work session that the original proposed changes were what would work best for both buildings, highlighting that having an hour set aside each week for common planning would have teachers focusing on student-related tasks, and that this was better for their staff versus a two hour planning period worked in once a month as there is fear that momentum on collaboration between teachers and departments would be lost over time.

“We’re not asking for professional development time. We’re not asking for time to implement some whole-building program or process. We’re asking for teachers to be able to work on specific tasks, and those specific tasks are all student-related,” Barnes said. “To me, for what we are asking for and what our goal is, an hour per week is really the only way I can see it working.”

TMS teachers Amy Armentrout and Holly Thomas spoke on the teacher’s perspective with the proposed schedule change. Armentrout said she felt the original proposed schedule change would be less of an interruption for the students. With the proposed schedule change, TMS students would only be losing a minute of class time per class during the day, while THS students would only be losing five minutes per class.

“I see your point about how the two hours would be more time, obviously, but I feel like if we were to have less interruption for the kids and the parents, they’re going to know it’s every Wednesday. That, with only one minute being deducted from each class, is really going to not take away,” Armentrout said. “With it being every Wednesday, I think that consistency will be key.”

Currently, Armentrout said the middle school has department meetings every month, and the first 15 minutes of that hour-long meeting are spent catching up on what was discussed the previous month. If there were weekly meetings within the built-in common planning time, there’s more room to continue with that consistency.

Board member Amber Drum had suggested the two hour, once a month planning time at the April 25 board meeting; after hearing from TMS Principal Diane Voress, Barnes, Armentrout and Thomas, she highlighted that her primary concern was the cost that would be incurred from the change in the bussing schedule on Wednesdays. The proposed schedule change would add on one additional hour per week for each bus driver in the district, and with approximately 16 bus drivers for Tipp City Schools, this averages out to an extra $15,181.15 cost each year.

“I want this, I think it’s awesome. As a former educator, I love it. I love the idea, I believe in collaboration, and I know it’s important for kids. I’m just thinking (about the) budget — where do we fit it? That’s where I’m stuck,” Drum said.

Several agenda items were also approved at Monday’s meeting:

• The 200 graduates for the graduation class of 2022 was unanimously approved, with the senior’s last day set for May 20.

• A total of $4,155 in grant dollars from the Miami County Foundation was unanimously approved.

• Several staff members were unanimously approved as committee members for Art, Music, Drama, Physical Education & Health and World Languages and Cultures for the 2021/2022 school year. Each staff member will be paid $850 for their service, per the Tipp City Education Association Master Agreement.

• A five-year copier lease and maintenance agreement with Perry Pro Tech at a cost of $31,512.84 per year beginning June 2022 was unanimously approved.

The next regular meeting of the Tipp City School Board will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, May 23.