CORTEZ – After a year of trimester scheduling, the Montezuma-Cortez High School is returning to a semester system.
Superintendent Lori Haukeness announced the change at the Feb. 19 board meeting. She attributed the decision to creating an easier transition for the school while onboarding a new principal, in light of current Principal Jason Wayman’s upcoming departure.
“Jason really had an eye for scheduling as you can tell, and so Jason was pretty much able to build the whole schedule and see it through,” she said. “And that was a concern with the incoming principal, that you really want to set a system up to succeed.... Quite frankly, the trimester would just be very difficult, especially when you have a leadership team saying that it would be very difficult to proceed.”
The middle school, which has also been on a trimester schedule for the past year, will also revert to semesters, she said.
The district decided to move to a trimester schedule last year as a way to allow students to take more specialized or career technical education courses, according to Haukeness.
Wayman, however, was a crucial part of this move, she said. When he submitted his letter of resignation, Haukeness asked him to speak with his leadership team about their thoughts on the future of the trimester scheduling – and they responded that they felt it would be best to revert to a semester system.
“Next year, we’ll be looking at a semester schedule, with a six-period day as it was before,” Haukeness said. “And so the schedule should be very easy, it’s a schedule that we followed for many years. It’s a traditional track that a lot of high schools all around (use), and they still provide good opportunities for the students.”
Board member Jack Schuenemeyer asked how the new scheduling would affect students’ graduation requirements, to which Haukeness replied that she doesn’t know about specifics yet, though credits would need to be adjusted and staff would need to work with students closely.
“I’m a little disappointed that we couldn’t tweak the trimester system a little bit and work with it a little bit, but I understand why it is, it makes sense,” said board member Lance McDaniel.
Other newsAlso along scheduling lines, the board discussed the possibility of trying to pass a mill levy override to help increase teacher salaries, along with the possibility of implementing a four-day week as a way of attracting and retaining teachers.
Board members reported having visited with teachers at different schools throughout the district to talk about proposing a mill levy override in the near future.
While many teachers were supportive of a mill levy override, there was some skepticism about whether it would actually pass.
Board president Sherri Wright said during a visit at Kemper Elementary School and Montezuma-Cortez High School, Kemper teachers expressed a more favorable impression of the chances of a mill levy override. “At both schools they told me that if they could not have a salary increase, it would be nice to have ... a four-day week,” she said.
Directors Schuenemeyer and McDaniel, though, were concerned that a four-day week mad adversely affect students.
Schuenemeyer expressed concern that a shorter week could be detrimental to at-risk students, who might benefit from an additional day of schooling, and McDaniel said the move would be dangerous for food-insecure students who rely on the district’s free and reduced lunch program.
He added that longer school days to make up for shorter weeks could prevent rural students from participating in after-school activities.