Schedule change at Zimmerly nixed

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The existing schedule will stay the same for all students attending Zimmerly Elementary School for the rest of the 2012-2013 school year, according to principal Susan Comiskey.

“We’re not going to do the schedule change for the school in January,” she said. “The schedule will remain the same for all grades.”

This month, Zimmerly students brought home a notice advising parents and guardians of a new seven-period schedule calling for all students to meet in different classrooms with different teachers for content-area instruction, much like a high school schedule.

The undated letter from Principal Susan Comiskey states,

“Zimmerly Elementary staff and students will be starting on Monday, January 7, 2013, with a new schedule that will allign (sic) us with the New Mexico Common Core Standards for next school year.

“We are very excited to begin this new program which will include three classes that have begun to move to different locations in the school.

“Teachers will teach content area and students will rotate classes during the day with a three minute transition from class to class, here (sic) is the new schedule.”

What follows is a schedule of 45-minute class periods starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 2:40 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break.

Superintendent Randall Earwood said parent and staff input stalled the proposed change. Families will receive notices this week about the decision not to go forward with the seven-period schedule, he said.

The schedule change proposal was more about improving Zimmerly’s New Mexico Public Education Department’s low performance grade than aligning with the national common core standards New Mexico schools are implementing this year, Earwood said.

“2011-2012 was the first year under the new A, B, C, D grading system,” he said. “Zimmerly received a D, which means it needs to improve math, language arts and science. Based on the new grading system, we want to be creative and take advantage of every opportunity to maximize our students’ performance.”

Earwood said there are pros and cons to implementing a rotation schedule in an elementary school.

“The pros: It allows teachers to teach a certain subject that they feel do an exceptional job with,” he said. “Even though elementary teachers are well versed in all subject areas, some subjects they feel more passionate about.

“The cons: Because they are so young and still developing, is it in the best interest of a fourth- or fifth-grader to change classes seven periods a day?”

Earwood said the district will keep searching for opportunities to improve student learning, such as team teaching.

“Are there alternatives we can look at that will take advantage of the strengths of the teachers as well as the needs of the students?” he asked.

Comiskey said the school already implements team teaching for two of the school’s fivefifth-grade classes.

“Zimmerly has been implementing team teaching in fifth grade for several years,” she said.

All of the other classes at the school are taught by a single teacher certified to teach all elementary school subjects.