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Time is short for new Bayside Middle School classes whose details aren't final

May 22, 2013

Fox Point — A May 30 meeting of the Curriculum Instruction and Policy Committee will be the next venue for the long and ongoing dialogue on Bayside Middle School's schedule, the Fox Point-Bayside School Board decided Monday.

Conversation among board members centered around two classes proposed for the 2013-14 schedule — a humanities-based, problem-solving course referred to as STEM and an added math class referred to as Math Works — that do not yet have fleshed-out curricula.

In order for those classes to make it into the next year's schedule, those curricula would need to be approved first by the CIP and later School Board. Board members, Superintendent Rachel Boechler and incoming Superintendent Vance Dalzin all acknowledged that time is short.

Motivating the board toward these changes are the state recommendation for minutes of math instruction and the upcoming smarter balanced assessment, which will replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination in the 2014-15 school year.

Currently Fox Point-Bayside is delivering fewer math minutes than the Department of Public Instruction recommends, and, as Teaching, Learning and Assessment Director Jennifer Ganske pointed out, underexposing students to problem-solving based courses. STEM and Math Works would prepare students for the smarter balanced assessment, which is geared less toward multiple choice questions and more toward problem-solving questions.

"It's just not what they've been exposed to with standardized testing," Ganske said of Math Works, "or even our math testing."

Middle School Principal Don Galster commented that, at this point, there are few options available when it comes to changing the 2013-14 schedule, though he added some teachers have stepped up to help lend their expertise.

"I can't say (putting the schedule together) will be a completely organic process," said Galster, "because what fits, fits, and what doesn't, doesn't."

At the same time, many of the teachers and district parents who addressed the board said it may too late and that it may be better to spend the year putting together curricula for implementation in the 2014-15 year.

"That's really putting the cart before the horse," said parent Dennis Evans of incorporating classes into the schedule without accompanying curricula. "I think we've done this backward, and the board and administration need to back up and do its research before approving any major changes."

Nicolet science teacher David Quam, to mixed reaction from the crowd, said the district needs to get the wheels turning on a referendum next spring if it plans to fund new programming and continue overstaffing, as the School Board recently committed to by laying off three of 10 teachers who had been up for layoffs in the 2013-14 year.

"If we don't do that, they'll be out of money to do what we want," said Quam. "We gotta put our money where our mouth is."

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Curriculum Instruction and Policy committee meeting regarding 2013-14 middle school schedule

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. May 30

WHERE: Stormonth Elementary School, 7301 North Longacre Road, Fox Point

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