October 24, 2021

Changes to Homer schools schedule weighed

Kevin Conlon

Homer Elementary School in a Cortland Standard file photo from May 2019

Some Homer High School students have a choice: go to class, or go to lunch. Others haul 20 pounds of books around with them all day because they don’t have time to get to the locker between class.

Homer Central School District administrators hope to have recommendations for new daily schedules by the end of this week to solve both of those problems.

Elliot Merenbloom, an educational consultant from Baltimore, spoke Tuesday night at a public hearing at Homer Central High School, discussing potential schedule changes that may be implemented to avoid scheduling conflicts for students in the school district after visiting with teachers and students in all of the districts’ schools.

These recommendations are being made to make sure that students won’t have classes taking over a student’s lunch time or being able to have enough time to travel from one class to another, Merenbloom said as examples.

He proposed three options:

  • Two semesters with four 90-minute classes meeting daily per semester.
  • Having four classes per day with alternating classes from one day to an- other.
  • A rotating schedule where students take three out of four potential classes in the morning and three out of four classes in afternoon with the classes changing from day to day, he said.

“I believe that there is a sincere interest in looking for some other ways of doing scheduling. I think some of the practices, some of the ideas have been here for a while and that’s normal, that happens,” Merenbloom said.

The schools in the district have different schedules, Thomas Turck, the superintendent for Homer Central School District said. Homer elementary and intermediate schools have time blocks for classes that vary by grade level, whereas Homer Junior High School has nine periods and an extra time period for extra help. Homer Central High School has eight classes and a lunch period.

He said that Merenbloom plans to have recommendations by Friday for the elementary school, intermediate school and junior high school and options to consider for the high school. Amy Kida, who has sons in Homer Elementary, Homer Intermediate and Homer Junior High School, brought up the issue of her sons having 20 minutes a day “where they just sit around,” and wondered how that could be addressed. Merenbloom responded that he had proposed a “zero period” where students could come in before classes started for electives or required courses, if needed.

“I had the impression that kids feel as though they can’t get all the time in electives they want,” he said. Leigh MacDonald-Rizzo, who has a son in the elementary who has a son in in the elementary school and a son in the junior high school, asked about having later start times for students in the junior high school and the duration and placement of recess during the day for younger students.

“How do we balance, and where do we put the priority, between what’s developmentally appropriate for kids versus what is convenient for adults?” she said.

Merenbloom said he and administrators are looking at how to best break up the schedule during the day.

Turck said he wasn’t sure if schedule plans will be implemented in the 2020-21 year.
“A lot of it will be on what we come up with,” he said. “If there are things that are doable for 2020-2021, we’ll certainly do that. Whereas perhaps staffing implications might take us a little bit longer to do that.”