Northern Tioga high school principals are seeking clarification of a request to explore aligning the schools’ schedules.
“At a point, we need to get clarity and focus on what you envision the schedule being able to do,” said Kristopher Kauffman, Williamson High School principal. “Is it strictly about staff alignment or to provide increased opportunities between schools for students? Both look a little different.”
School board president Julie Preston said Greg Cummings and Jolene Misner are the board members championing aligning school schedules. Neither were present at the board’s work session Monday, Sept. 27, where Kaufman and Matt Sottolano, Cowanesque Valley High School principal, asked for clarification.
“If we know what the goal is, I guarantee we can up with options to fit,” said Sottolano.
Currently, Williamson is running at a four-by-four modified block schedule and CV is on an eight-period schedule. Both principals say these schedules benefit the needs of their unique student populations.
“There are a lot of similarity between our students, but we have a lot of transient students who are in and out, especially junior and senior years,” said Kauffman. “With the current model, we can build them an individualized scheduled that gets them graduated. If you asked what’s best for students at each high school, I think we’re doing it.”
Sottolano added, “If we go by a block schedule, the CV kids won’t get the opportunities they have now. What we’re doing now has proven to be efficient for us.”
Board member Kim Strausser said aligning schedules and consolidating staff may lead to needed cost-cutting. “I’m looking at the future. I do not want to get to a point where we need to close a school. I can harp on this until I die, but we have to have money to keep this going. It’s a crap shoot every year.”
Superintendent Dr. Diana Barnes said, “One reason is we’re essentially running two separate high schools. That means two Spanish teachers when we may only need one. It’s very apparent by class sizes we just don’t have the numbers. I’m just using this as an example, but could we have a Spanish teacher at one school one semester and then the other semester at the other school?”
Barnes added that increased remote-learning technology could be used for students needing to take a class offered at the other high school.
Both principals acknowledged that some upper-level electives, including Spanish II and III, have very low enrollment, but still questioned whether aligning schedules for staff consolidation was what’s best for students.
“If the goal is to align staff, a four-by-four block schooled is the only way,” said Kauffman. “But is that what’s best for student offerings? I’m not sure it is but that’s a different discussion. I don’t think those discussions marry very well.”
The board tabled the discussion for its next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11.