Kudos to school district for work on block scheduling

Memories frequently tend to be short. A year ago, people may forget, Glenfield Middle School went through a difficult year for several reasons. The year finished with a push from central office to change our schedule to a “block schedule,” 80-minute classes every other day, versus our current 40-minute daily class. The rush to change without any real justification, other than attempting to “standardize” all the middle schools, was too much, and the teachers, parents, students, even administrators all rebuffed it. We argued the change was not thought out, well-vetted, or inclusive of the people involved. It was simply done the wrong way.

This week Glenfield went through a successful rehearsal of a new schedule which will include one block of 80 minutes per week plus three 40-minute periods, a compromise that gives the science teachers and others extra time for lessons while maintaining optimal time with our students on a daily basis. The rehearsal follows five-six months of meetings between teachers and administrators to find a good compromise. It is no simple calculation or matrix to change a schedule when lunch, phys ed, the arts, state regulations, etc., are included.

Five plans were presented to the school in the fall and one plan seemed to address the most concerns. I was not on the committee, but I followed it closely and was impressed by the process, the dialogue, and the outcome. The committee solved a problem that many had said could not be solved. Throughout the process, our interim Superintendent was very supportive and open to allowing the school to come up with a viable plan.

At a time when it seems only the critics of our schools are heard, I want to compliment those involved in our new schedule. This was the same process and thinking our schools went through back in the 1970s when we first started busing and magnet schools, and it is great to see the innovative attitude is still alive and well in Montclair.

Specifically, I want to thank the students, the teachers, the parents, the administrators at Glenfield, the interim Superintendent, and the BOE including Mayor Jackson for their support. Our schools will benefit from innovative changes like these.

The author is a teacher at Glenfield Middle School.


Paving paradise for a jail for animals

How disappointing that a supposedly progressive county is destroying natural habitat to put a zoo and a restaurant in South Mountain Reservation.

The excuse for building zoos is that they 'educate children'. How long will it take before a generation of children grow up to say enough—let's keep what little remaining natural habitat we have for the wild animals, instead of putting 'exotic' animals behind bars.

And the restaurant? As the previous letter writer, George Bretherton said, there are plenty of restaurants in Montclair and surrounding towns. "The park is disappearing under asphalt." And as letter writer Jim Price said, not doing this project would save taxpayers a bundle. I don't want any of my tax money going to this project. Save the wilderness for wild animals!