Belding schools returns to semesters format

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 12:20 pm on Tuesday, February 19, 2013

BELDING — Beginning this fall, students at Belding Area Schools will have to adjust to a change in scheduling as the district returns to a curriculum designed around semester scheduling, as it dismisses the current trimester format.

Members of the Belding Board of Education voted unanimously Monday evening to approve a request that will take effect at the start of the 2013-14 school year to disband the current trimester format, which has been in effect in Belding since the 2006-07 school year.

The request, according to Belding Superintendent Sara Shriver, comes from the desire and need to add additional time for teachers to provide instructional lessons implementing the state’s core academic standards.

“The national curriculum, called the National Common Core State Standards, is something that every state had a chance to elect to be a part of, and Michigan is one of those states,” Shriver said. “Now that the state has adopted these standards, we have to implement them, starting with this year.”

Shriver said by transitioning to semesters, staff will have increased teaching time, which will allow for preteaching and reteaching of the state standards.

“We know how important it is to increase our instructional time in the core areas,” she said.

Shriver added that the transition will not directly impact instruction opportunities in grades kindergarden through eighth grade, however, enrichment opportunities will be reduced but still offered at the high school level.

“Enrichment programs are our classes that we offer that are not of the core curriculum,” she said.

Shriver said enrichment classes consist of non-core classes such as fine arts programs and physical education.

“We won’t be losing any of these programs, just offering fewer sessions of them.”

Belding will be the third of five school districts in Ionia County to implement a semester system, as opposed to the trimester system.

Board President Tom Humphreys said it was hard to believe the district was already returning to a semester format of scheduling.

“It’s amazing to me as it seems like just the other day we were talking about switching over to trimesters,”  Humphreys said. “It’s a little disconcerting how much our requirements are affected by things outside of our control. While I do think it is good for our students to improve their academic achievements, obviously this is something we feel is necessary to keep pace at both the state and national levels.”

Humphreys said he believes the change to semesters will place students in an environment where they can excel in their academic pursuits.

The current draft of the semester scheduling system will not result in any cuts to staff positions, according to Shriver, however, the board will not be reviewing the district’s budget until March.

“At this time, we do not have any staff displacement,” Shriver said. “But our decision to go to a semester system was not based on our budget. This was a decision based strictly on academic performance.”

Belding High School Principal Brett Zuver said the change to semesters was one that was necessary in order to meet the new state standards.

“The amount of time spent in front of your math teacher or English teacher in a semester compared to a trimester, it’s significantly different,” Zuver said. “In regards to student achievement, it’s something we really feel we need to do to give our students every opportunity to allow our students to compete across the state.”

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