Planning at middle schools could change

CHARLES TOWN – Jefferson County’s schools chief is defending a proposal to change how planning happens in middle schools here.

Superintendent Susan Wall said the county will continue with what’s called the middle school “team concept” – designed to help transition students from elementary to middle and from middle to high school.
In the past, middle school teachers have had two planning periods – one standard session of 45 minutes and another 45 minutes in team planning, where a group of teachers specializing in science, social studies, math and English come together to lay out their instruction plans.
But because of budget cuts, Wall is recommending a change for the upcoming school year.
School board member Alan Strum said the board is being asked to OK a plan that would replace team leaders with department chairmen, in a setup that’s similar to what’s in place at the high school level.
“Yes, we did reduce the number of teachers, but that does not eliminate the middle school concept,” Wall said. “The middle school principals will be presenting team meetings.”
Harpers Ferry Middle School Principal Joseph Spurgas said schools will have to adjust as budget cuts are made.
“The principals have a task of working with a more limited staff next year because of budget cuts,” Spurgas said. “Anytime you lose staff it has an impact on students. We will provide the best education we can with the staff we have.”
Wall defended the need to make the cuts. “Basically the double planning required eight teachers and cost the county approximately $400,000 annually, depending on seniority of the teachers,” she said.
The proposal will come before the school board on Monday. “The decision will be up to the board,” Wall said. “Changes aren’t easy. We have to do what is fiscally sound.”


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