Proposals look to improve learning at School District of Lancaster | Community News
When: School District of Lancaster board meeting, Jan. 3.
what happened: Administrators unveiled several proposals they think will improve learning for students and teachers while also encouraging more pupils to stay in district schools or programs.
quotable: “We want to change how we do some levels of instruction,” said Karen Wynn, who directs the district’s instructional programs and professional development, told board members. “We want students to take ownership of learning.” She said parents want options on how their students attend school, and families leave the district for charter-school options or online programs the district fails to offer.
response: Some board members, however, questioned part of that goal and spoke about giving students the best learning experience possible without focusing on how to increase enrollment.
hybrid learning: “I’m surprised this is on here right now,” said board Vice President Karina Rios, referring to two proposals concerning Full Circle Learning, the district’s hybrid program. One plan would expand the program to fifth grade and then to middle school, while the other would move students from the Scheffey Building to a centrally located elementary campus, depending on where the most interest will be. “Interest has gone down for a hybrid program” as the pandemic lengthens, Rios said.
How the program works: Full Circle, which began with the 2021-22 school year, combines classroom learning in the mornings with afternoon lessons off campus in the afternoons on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Students spend Wednesdays completing assignments outside of the classroom.
More board member reaction: “I’m a little skeptical,” Edith Gallagher said about supporting a small-group program instead of one benefiting more students, while Mara Creswell McGrann said board members and administrators first need to figure out their philosophy on how to deliver instruction.
Background: Board members voted in May to drop Full Circle expansion plans from the district’s 2022-23 budget. The program this year serves students in grades 1-4. The plan dropped kindergarten enrollment for this school year because board members asked for data to prove that Full Circle benefited students.
Cyber Pathways: The district will move its virtual learning program from a building at 600 Rockland St. to JP McCaskey High School around Jan. 15. The change should make it easier for students to combine live classes with online credit recovery or advanced learning, said Justin Reese, Main McCaskey’s.
Class sizes: Reese said the high school plans to offer options to students who already have significant credits toward graduation. Some McCaskey students may work off-campus to get CTE credit, while others may decide to take classes virtually. The resulting drop in class sizes would benefit struggling students, Reese said.
Elementary Newcomer Program: Administrators want to pilot a newcomer program in elementary schools since the district froze its Dual Language Immersion program in 2021 and then voted to end the Wharton Elementary and Reynolds Middle initiative in 2022. The new elementary program, similar to one at McCaskey, would serve students who need help learning in English.
Next: The school board will meet at 6:30 pm Jan. 10. The public can view meetings and register to comment on the district website.