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D-155 committee considers changes to science labs

Dozens of parents, teachers, students turned out to voice concerns Tuesday

About 100 students, teachers and parents turned out for Tuesday night's Curriculum, Staff Development and Student Services Committee meeting.
About 100 students, teachers and parents turned out for Tuesday night's Curriculum, Staff Development and Student Services Committee meeting.

Community High School District 155 School Board members learned Tuesday night about possible changes to science classes – which could result in up to 12 teachers losing their jobs over a four-year period.

About 100 students, teachers and parents turned out for Tuesday night's Curriculum, Staff Development and Student Services Committee meeting in Crystal Lake.

Scott Shepard, assistant superintendent of educational services, presented a four-year plan the district administration hopes the school board will approve before the 2019-20 school year.

He said the proposed changes are in line with the district's strategic plan, which was inspired by findings from a survey of more than 5,100 students, staff, parents and community members at the beginning of the school year on the district’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

"It's really reorganizing the time that we utilize for science," Shepard said. "Next school year, 2019-20, we would at the exploration and redesign of our AP and biology classes. What we are asking for is our division leaders and our teachers to look at the curriculums and look at the labs that they currently have, and can they utilize time differently in order to give our kids some other opportunities? ... The following year what we would look at doing is reducing all AP 10-period science classes to seven to eight periods and leave environmental and physics 1 which are currently seven periods and seven periods."

He said the changes would "increase flexibility for students."

The same year could see biology and honors biology periods would be reduced from seven to five periods a week. Chemistry classes also could be redesigned.

During the 2021-22 school year, chemistry and honors chemistry would be reduced from seven periods to five periods a week. Physics classes could be redesigned.

During the 2022-23 school year, physics would be reduced from seven to five periods per week.

"This is not something that just happened overnight," he said. "This has been something that probably the last three superintendents have looked at and considered."

He said up to 12 educators could lose their jobs over the four-year overhaul.

The vast majority of attendees expressed concern and opposition to the proposed changes.

"I find it incredibly difficult and disturbing to digest this plan," physics teacher Steve Connell said.

Cary-Grove High School science teacher Andy Wagner said he worries about the decrease in lab time.

"I also would like to see the data that shows the parents in the community would like to trade lab science time for other electives when I consider the number of juniors and seniors that will take even a third, fourth or even a fifth science class," he said.

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