Reynoldsburg Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning told the school board last week the district needs to "get creative" when it comes to scheduling while still ensuring students get appropriate time for core instruction, electives, lunch and travel to and from school each day.

Reynoldsburg Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning told the school board last week the district needs to "get creative" when it comes to scheduling while still ensuring students get appropriate time for core instruction, electives, lunch and travel to and from school each day.

It's a tall order.

Thomas Manning said parents have complained to her about 30-minute classes and inconsistencies from building to building when it comes to scheduling "special" classes such as music, art and physical education.

She said the problem is fitting those special classes into a school day that in most buildings is 61 percent filled with core academic instruction in subjects such as language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

"At Baldwin Road (Junior High), we tried splitting one 60-minute session into two 30-minute sessions, but that did not work well with things like orchestra and Spanish," she said at the board's March 17 meeting. "It is hard for students to get their instruments out and tuned and ready for enough instruction time, and 30 minutes was not acceptable to learn Spanish.

"So we have to make some tough decisions," she said. "If we want to fit in more than one special a day, then do we extend the day to another period? We have to get creative with some solutions to this problem."

The school day normally has about 90 minutes -- or 23 percent of the day -- available for electives, Thomas-Manning said, but that could include recess, foreign languages, health, physical education, visual arts, music and design. Add in 30 minutes for lunch -- 8 percent of the day -- and 30 minutes -- another 8 percent -- for transition, which includes arrival, dismissal and time for changing classes, and you run out of hours, she said.

Gallery input meetings

The district has started holding what it calls "gallery input meetings" where parents can give their ideas on how to increase opportunities for students to take elective courses. The next session is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, in the Performing Arts Center lobby at Summit Road High School, 8579 Summit Road.

Some of the scheduling conflicts have emerged as the district tries to continue its traditional site-based scheduling while developing more STEM schools.

Thomas-Manning said each building has had "site-based" flexibility in scheduling classes.

"We have been a site-based district for a long time and there are specials that may not fit in well in some of our STEM schools," she said. "There can be many good things about a school being site-based."

She said parents as well as teachers need to give input on scheduling details.

"I have teachers saying there is not enough instructional time and parents saying it is not fair that their child has only 30 minutes of Spanish instruction while another school has close to an hour," she said. "We can't please everyone, but we need to have plenty of input from parents so that we can make appropriate changes."

Todd Hutchins, director of communications, said people attending the gallery input session do not have to stay the entire two hours.

"Participants can arrive at any time during the two-hour session to complete the short gallery survey and talk with district administrators," he said.

Questions should be directed to Hutchins via email at Todd.Hutchins@reyn.org.