One of the questions the Kuna school district is posing to patrons got me intrigued: “If you left the Kuna School District and returned in 10 years to find that the Kuna School District is a leading edge educational system, what new things would you see?”
Of course, given the context, we’re talking about a school of the future with less money to educate our children.
So, here we go, my stab at the school of the future in Idaho. Not only did I try to take into account the notion of less money, but I also wanted to incorporate some of what I’d like to see in the future, namely, longer days and longer school years and smaller class sizes.
First, the school day would be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. One half of students would be in a traditional classroom setting for the three hours in the morning, and the other half would be in a traditional classroom setting for three hours in the afternoon. Here’s how a typical student’s schedule might look:
9 a.m. to noon: traditional classroom time with his or her primary grade-specific teacher.
12 to 12:30 p.m.: Lunch.
12:30 to 1 p.m.: Recess.
1 to 1:30 p.m.: Gym or online learning in the school’s online learning lab.
1:30 to 2 p.m.: Online learning in the school’s online learning lab.
3 to 2:30 p.m.: Music or online learning.
2:30 to 3 p.m.: Art or homework time.
3 to 3:30 p.m.: Library or homework time.
3:30 to 4 p.m.: “Homework” time.
For the other half of the students, the schedule would be reversed, with the traditional classroom time in the afternoon and gym, online, music, library and art in the morning. Similarly, recess would be from 12 to 12:30, and lunch would be 12:30 to 1 p.m.
OK, so what does this accomplish? First of all, you’re going to have fewer teachers.
Here’s how it works. Currently, a typical school might have a teacher structure that looks like this:
Kindergarten: 90 students, 3 teachers.
1st grade: 90 students, 3 teachers (30 students per class).
2nd grade: 90 students, 3 teachers.
3rd grade: 90 students, 3 teachers.
4th grade: 90 students, 3 teachers.
5th grade: 90 students, 3 teachers.
Total: 540 students, 18 teachers.
Assuming each teacher makes an average of $42,000 per year, the cost of the classroom teaching staff salaries would be $756,000.
(As an aside, I would put sixth-graders in the middle school, but they would be quarantined by themselves with their own teacher and own lunch period and venturing out of their “wing” only for gym and music when the halls are empty. So elementary school goes back to K-5.)
Under the new structure, each teacher would have 22 or 23 students in the morning session and 22 or 23 students in the afternoon. It would look like this:
Kindergarten: 90 students, 2 teachers (22 or 23 students per class).
1st grade: 90 students, 2 teachers.
2nd grade: 90 students, 2 teachers.
3rd grade: 90 students, 2 teachers.
4th grade: 90 students, 2 teachers.
5th grade: 90 students, 2 teachers.
Total: 540 students, 12 teachers.
Cost of the teaching staff would now be reduced to $504,000, a savings of $250,000 just in salary, not counting benefits.
You can read the rest of this column in this week's issue of the Kuna Melba News.