The West Hempstead School District (WHSD) recently announced that both the middle school and high school would have their school days cut to eight periods for the 2013-14 school year.
The cut in one period in each school also means that 10-12 staff members will more than likely be let go.
The following was posted on the WHSD website addressing the expected eight-period day during the 2013-14 school year.
Q. How does going down to an eight period day save money?
A. Fewer teachers are needed to staff an eight period day as compared to a nine period day.
Q. What do the kids lose in an eight period day? For ninth period, what elective will be lost?
A. In the middle school, students previously had 24 class periods in which to have different instructional experiences (8 periods of classes x 3 years). Now students will have 21 classes in which to have different instructional experiences (7 class periods x 3 years). In the high school, students previously had 32 class periods to work with (8 periods of classes x 4 years). Now students will have 28 class periods through high school (7 periods of classes x 4 years).
In the middle school, 6th graders will no longer take the foreign language survey course. Students will continue to earn 1 credit towards their high school foreign language requirement by 8th grade. In 8th grade, students will no longer take critical writing. At the High School, more electives will need to be offered on alternating years or through a four-year rotation so that all students will have the opportunity to take them during their High School career. Regular course offerings, including AP courses, will continue on their regular schedule. There will be reductions in staff in English, Social Studies, Math, Science, Foreign Language, Business, Art, Music and Physical Education because courses will be offered over fewer periods and also because enrollment is decreasing in the High School.
Q. Is it time to consider having a K-8 district and sending our children to other high schools?
A. No. New York State computes annual spending per student and non-resident tuitions for each school district. West Hempstead's are consistently among the lowest in Nassau County. In addition, there is no neighboring district that would take our entire student population. Therefore, the children of West Hempstead would need to be dispersed to several different High Schools.
Q. Is the eight period day at the HS/MS a given?
A. Unless the budgetary projections for 13-14 improved suddenly or another big cost saving strategy comes to the forefront, yes.
Q. How does an eight period day get scheduled to ensure all students have the right opportunities?
A. A nine period day was instituted years ago to give students additional learning opportunities that go well beyond minimum graduation requirements. There is room in an eight period day for students to continue to get additional learning opportunities above the minimum graduation requirements. However, those additional learning opportunities are being reduced with the institution of an eight period day.
Q. Is there an opportunity for a nine period day for the students who need it?
A. At this point no. NYS Education Law indicates that students "must be allowed a reasonable time for lunch" and that "meals can be consumed in a classroom". Schools can accommodate students with full schedules by allowing students to consume their meals during classroom instruction activities. We are looking into a flexible schedule in which some students and teachers would begin earlier in the day than others; however, we believe this solution would cause transportation costs to go up because we would need to double the number of morning and afternoon bus runs for grades 6-12.
Q. What number of staff members will be excessed? How many teachers are being cut from the high school?
A. Current estimates identify 10-12 staff members to be excessed; most of whom are on the secondary level. These employees will be notified about their potential separation from the District in the very near future.