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Monroe County school schedule revision delayed after community opposition

MCCSC Protest
Posted at 10:26 PM, Oct 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-25 19:54:30-04

BLOOMINGTON — The Monroe County Community School Corporation unveiled a big change for the school district next year, but the plan to revise school schedules will not take effect after the community pushed back on the idea.

The MCCSC board voted 4-3 Tuesday to delay any schedule changes until the 2025-2026 school year. The vote took place five hours after the start of the meeting, which included more than two hours of public comments against the planned switch.

"The absence of trust and the hurried nature of this change has led to a community saying, 'We don't like this, we don't believe you, you're scaring us, please stop,'" said R.J. Woodring, a parent in the district.

MCCSC and Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hauswald planned to switch Bloomington South from a trimester school schedule to a semester school schedule in the 2024-2025 academic year. Tuesday's school board meeting, the first since the plans were made public Friday, became a place for students and parents to unload their frustration at the school board.

"You have ignored our reasoning, and most importantly, you have hurt our community," said Ronan Steele, a student at Bloomington South.

"The superintendent has chosen not to listen to the heart of these high schools, which are the teachers and students, and therefore must be removed," said parent Mitchell McCall.

In an e-mail to parents after the board meeting, Hauswald announced the following changes:

  • Focus groups will be conducted as previously planned.
  • Data will be shared with the Board and community.
  • A citizens’ advisory committee will be formed in accordance with MCCSC Board Policy Manual 9140. The committee will assist in evaluating data and researching the issue and solutions. They will submit a recommended course of action to the district and the Board.
  • Monroe County Education Association (MCEA) will be consulted for feedback and input, as is customary either by the law or by the will of the Board to do so.

Bloomington South's current trimester schedule means students rotate classes twice per year. The semester schedule would increase instruction time per class, but students would only rotate classes once per year.

Bloomington South student Noah Torres said the flexibility of the trimester schedule has helped him recover from both of his parents' deaths by suicide.

"I've been able to work 25 hours a week give or take to save up, because I don't exactly have parents able to save up for college for me," Torres said.

The public comment in opposition to the schedule change lasted for more than two hours. The meeting was also prefaced by student-led protests outside of the school board chambers against the changes.

"We are trying to represent every single student in this county and all of our teachers as well, because they are not allowed to speak up," said Jake Cocalis, the lead organizer of the demonstrations.

Later in the meeting, Hauswald said the schedule change would increase new opportunities for students and decrease class sizes. He also said the move would not lead to any teacher layoffs.