The Council Bluffs Community School District is on track to switch from trimesters to semesters for the 2019-2020 school year.
The district board of education will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Educational Service Center as part of its workshop meeting.
A task force of teachers, principals and counselors decided the change to semesters would provide greater opportunities for high school students to take college-credit courses at Iowa Western Community College, according to an email message distributed to parents on Oct. 31.
The district has also taken questions from parents and posted frequently asked questions with answers from district officials, accessible via a link from the email.
“The overwhelming majority of community and parent responses have been very favorable,” said Corey Vorthmann, chief academic officer. “(Semesters are) the dominant type of calendar in the country for high schools and colleges.”
Interest in dual-credit classes has grown substantially, Vorthmann said.
“If you look at the number of students taking concurrent classes, that has about doubled,” he said. “Iowa Western also offers (winter and summer) interim classes that our students have not been able to take advantage of.”
Switching to semesters may help the school district’s calendar align more closely with colleges and some schools – not Lewis Central Community School District, however, which is currently on trimesters.
With the conversion, single-trimester classes will become semester classes, Vorthmann said. Trimester classes converted to semester classes will be 18 weeks instead of 12 weeks.
High school schedules will change from five 70-minute periods per day to seven 50-minute periods, plus advisement, he said. To accommodate the additional passing periods, the school day will be lengthened by 10 minutes, with school starting at 8 a.m. instead of 8:10.
The change would limit high school students to 15 credits a year, instead of 16, Vorthmann said.
“There could be a few tweaks,” he said, such as making a small adjustment to the length of advisement sessions at the high schools.
The school day will not change for middle school and elementary students.
The school district went to trimesters in 2009, Vorthmann said.
“Prior to that, A.L. and T.J. had different schedules, which complicated things,” he said.
Abraham Lincoln used to use a modified block schedule, but it was hard to continue that once the district changed to a trimester calendar, Vorthmann said.
While change can be disruptive, Vorthmann is confident everyone can adapt to this one.
“We all get comfortable in our routines – and we will get comfortable with this routine next fall,” he said.