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Gibraltar Board Opts for Longer Class Periods

Two express concerns about opportunities for band, arts electives

Before the Gibraltar Area School Board took a 5-2 vote April 8 to have two less but longer class periods during the school day, secondary-school principal Jim DeBroux surveyed teachers for their opinions.

DeBroux said more than 85% of teachers responded, and 31 out of 33 (94%) expressed support for the change.

Gibraltar currently has nine 44-minute class periods each day, including a 44-minute-long advisory period for students to use in a variety of ways, such as independent study; career and college exploration; ACT and SAT preparation; and social-emotional learning.

Next year, the district will have seven, 52-minute periods and reduce the final, advisory-time period to 30 minutes.

Board members Karen Nordahl and Jeremy Schwab voted against having fewer class periods. Nordahl expressed concern that having one less class period could adversely affect participation in band and chorus. Schwab said two fine-arts students approached him and expressed opposition to the plan.

DeBroux said any objections from teachers were fairly consistent – having fewer class periods reduces the number of subjects, electives or job-related courses that students can explore.

“A lot of the feedback is very positive,” DeBroux said of the plan that would allow students to focus on one less class per semester. 

He said most instructors like the idea of having time to delve deeper into subject matter. DeBroux also said eight extra minutes can give students more time to focus and to ask questions and better understand concepts. Teachers expressed support for having more time to work with students.

DeBroux said having more time for setup and cleanup also benefits science laboratories, classes with simulations, arts and technical-education such as robotics. 

Responding to concerns from Nordahl about students only having three minutes to get from one classroom to the next, board president and student learning committee member Jessica Sauter said the principal and committee still can look at other options, such as subtracting one minute per period.

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