D86 courses below guidelines to run

Board approves four classes with three to 14 students to run for 2024-25 year

Hinsdale High School District 86 could offer a class for only three students next year at Hinsdale South High School.

The school board reiterated its commitment last week to offering a biology-chemistry-physics sequence at Hinsdale South, which prior to three years ago offered only a physics first sequence. Only three incoming South freshmen chose to enroll in a biology class, biology honors, administrators reported during the preliminary staffing discussion at the March 7 meeting.

Board President Cat Greenspon suggested students at South might not sign up for biology because the course has run only once in the past three years.

"If a student and their family is told there is a good chance biology is not going to run at South but physics most definitely will run, they may not choose that path," she said. "You could have 20 kids choose bio as opposed to four that indicated bio was their first choice because they know for certain biology will run.

"We need to let everybody know the board is supporting the BCP sequence," she added later in the meeting

"If that's the direction of the board, we should have built that into the framework," said Cheryl Moore, assistant superintendent of human resources, referring to a board discussion that took place in December.

The board unanimously agreed it would also like to run Latin 1 at South for seven students, German 1 at South for 14 students and AP music theory at Central for nine students.

Adding the full-time equivalent of .8 teachers to run the four classes will cost the district an estimated $118,000, according to Josh Stephenson, chief financial officer. He described the addition to the $61.6 million salary expense as a "fairly manageable variance that we can manage during the budget process."

Not counting the four classes, the administration asked for 1.2 additional certified FTE for the 2024-25 school year, for a total FTE of 359.9. That increase includes an additional 1.7 FTE at Central and 2.5 FTE at South, with a drop of 1.8 FTE in the district's Haven program.

The board is slated to approve the staffing request later this month. Under state law, the district must notify by April 15 any teachers whose contracts are not being renewed or who are being honorably dismissed, Moore noted. Administrators also need time to build a master schedule for each building.

"It's a massive undertaking to logistically make that whole process work," she said.

The staffing discussion spiraled into conversations about how the science sequences are marketed and offering early bird physical education for band students and possibly all students.

Five people spoke during public comment about the decision two years ago to eliminate early bird PE for freshmen and sophomores. Many band students take advantage of that option in order to fit a music class and a world language class into their schedule. Greenspon shared her own concerns during the board discussion.

"We're going to kill the music programs at both schools," she said.

Administrators reminded board members that the class is not listed in the program of studies the board approved in November. They also noted that opening up a period during the day for all ninth- and 10th-graders would mean more students signing up for more classes during the regular school day, requiring more teachers.

"The numbers we're looking at tonight would almost certainly be different on the 21st," Hinsdale South Principal Patrick Hardy said.

Hinsdale Central Principal Bill Walsh cautioned against adding the class for all students.

"Part of me would rather talk about making exceptions," he said. "If you open it up, I feel like you've created a nine-period day."

The board was split on whether to ask for the early bird class. Greenspon pressed the point.

"Can we please consider at the building level what the exception would look like?" she asked. "However you do it is however you do it."

The staffing plan will be on the agenda for a board vote at the Thursday, March 21, meeting.

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean