School board explores LHS block schedule for 2023-24

Sixth-graders to make move from Cascades to Seven Oak Middle School

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

The Lebanon Community School District Board wrapped its May 11 meeting within an hour after hearing about a schedule change at Lebanon High School and agreeing to move sixth graders from Cascades School to Seven Oak Middle School.
High school students will transition to a block schedule beginning in the 2023-24 academic year. Currently, they attend seven 52-minute periods per day while teachers lead six of seven classes each day. In the proposed schedule, eight 90-minute periods would be split throughout the week, with teachers working six of eight classes over two days.
The schedules follow a “red-blue” scheduling system, with students attending first through fourth period on “red days,” then fifth through eighth on “blue days.”
According to Superintendent Jennifer Meckley, challenges to the new schedule include a lack of daily practice regarding subject matter and needs of staff to adjust content for longer periods.
“There is nothing that is a perfect solution or perfect schedule,” she said.
Benefits include an increase in available credits, more master schedule flexibility, greater choice for electives, increased time for deeper instruction, less homework, more daily prep time for teachers and fewer transitions for students from period to period.
“If you think about a student’s day, and you were probably in a seven-period schedule, you’re running from one period to the next,” Meckley said. “Fewer transitions are going to be less stressful for students and students can focus on four classes of homework per night.”
LHS Principal Craig Swanson had earlier explained the schedule to staff to allow time for processing, understanding and offering feedback, Meckley said. An ensuing survey revealed that 75.5% were in favor of the change, while 15.8% were undecided or neutral, and about 9% were opposed.
Working through the logistics, Meckley said, the district wanted one lunch period for all students, but the school lacked the staff or facilities to support that.
Board member Nichole Piland asked if the new structure would change graduation requirements. Meckley replied that, at this time, it would not.
“Graduation rates go up sometimes for schools that have a block schedule, so we would hope to see that,” she said.
Chair Tom Oliver recalled attending a high school that went from a regular to block schedule.
“It was great,” he said. “It gave a lot more opportunities to be more in-depth with subject matter and more opportunities to not have your electives be so restricted.”
He also noted that it was distracting to change classes often every day.
“[The block schedule] reduces the wasted time during the day that you lose every time you move around,” he said.
In other action, the board approved a motion to move sixth graders from Cascades School to Seven Oak Middle School, making Cascades a K-5 elementary school.
According to Meckley, Cascades currently has one sixth-grade class of about 20 students.