[media-credit id=161 align="alignleft" width="198"][/media-credit]Being a Lancer is an entirely different experience than being an Indian, a Cougar, a Viking or a Raider. Everything about Shawnee Mission East – the pool where our champions train, the classrooms where 92 percent of the student body is college-bound – is in some way unique from its four sibling schools and vice versa.
The Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) should allow East and its fellow high schools to tailor administrative policies to their unique needs.
With the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, East’s students and staff faced a major administrative change: the schedule.
After three years of one seven period and four block period days per week, East was forced to conform its schedule with the four other SMSD high schools. The 2011-2012 school year launched a standardized three seven period and two block days per week schedule. At any time on any day of the week, the five high schools are in the same class period.
Unifying East, North, Northwest, West and South through this compromised schedule change creates consistency within the district, which theoretically allows teachers who split their time between schools to manage their schedules. At East, however, changing the schedule was unnecessary and inconvenient.
“I just didn’t see the need for us to do that,” Krawitz said. “But that’s a very biased statement on my part because we don’t have the dilemma that the other schools have in terms of specialty teachers that have to be shared with one building and another.”
At East, only a handful of teachers travel between buildings within the district — namely specialized music teachers. Replacing beloved block period days with seven period days didn’t benefit East. Although unifying the schedule may benefit other schools, East should be given the liberty to choose a schedule that best benefits its staff and students.
The SMSD fails to adapt its administrative policies to the individual needs of each high school. Scheduling isn’t the only SMSD policy that East is forced to comply to: the grade point average and class rank system also harm students.
GPAs of high-achieving students at East, which makes the class rank system hyper-competitive. Students with 4.0 GPAs, who would rank well at other high schools, may not even be in the top third at East. Dr. Krawitz hopes to eliminate the class rank system, but changing this policy throughout the SMSD is unlikely.
Though all five high schools are a part of the unified school district, each is located in different communities and has different skill sets. East offers a learning environment and extracurricular opportunities distinct from the four other high schools and therefore has different needs; students in Prairie Village have different needs than those in Overland Park or Shawnee. The SMSD should grant the freedom to different schools to adapt their own administrative policies.
Even if policies are the same across the district, the student bodies, staff and buildings are diverse. Each of the five high schools are unique and should be treated as such – especially with policies like block scheduling that directly affect the students.