Baldwin to consider new block schedule


Evelyn Esek

Baldwin High School serves the Baldwin, Whitehall, and Baldwin Township communities.

Alisha Katel and Ava Bell

Principal Shaun Tomaszewski has a knack for wanting to better Baldwin High School’s student body — which now includes the possibility of block schedules.

“There’s this interest in reflecting on what school looks like at Baldwin High School, and trying to imagine ways that school could be better for the students, ultimately,” Tomaszewski said. 

Tomaszewski thinks that while Baldwin High School is doing a good job of preparing students, they could be doing better.

“I want to make sure that when kids walk across our commencement stage, they are ready to take the next step in their lives,” Tomaszewski said.

The idea of block scheduling is only in its beginning stage of planning. 

“It could be that some courses run as blocks. It could be that some courses meet 5 days a week for 40 minutes, as they traditionally can,” Tomaszewski said. “There’s a million different ways to play around with it.”

A block schedule is a different way of arranging the school day. There are various kinds of block schedules, some involving fewer classes with longer periods, and others with rotating schedules.

Once the block schedule is a true proposition, the Secondary Working Conditions Committee, made up of two to three school faculty members, will meet. The committee then recommends their judgment to the school board who gives the approval for the plan. 

Superintendent Randal Lutz said the only progress being made on the implementation currently is visiting other schools that use block scheduling. 

“A couple of weeks ago, a handful of us went up to Cleveland to look at how other schools utilize their block schedules,” Lutz said.

Back at Baldwin, teachers were surveyed about the potential block schedule in order to form feedback and possible options. If the proposition goes through, both parents and students will be surveyed as well.

“I think the difference between schools making any significant change like that, successfully, is the extent to which people, faculty, staff, students, and families are sufficiently involved,” Tomaszewski said.

Tomaszewski explained the implementation process is not as simple as it may seem and the district will have to work together in order for it to be successful. 

“The first thing you have to do is take people’s pulse, take a sense of where they are, and then design the process, and when you design the process you have to engage people to design the structure,” Tomaszewski said.

Tomaszewski explained that he is capable of providing a vision for Baldwin High School, but without support, the idea will not develop.

Some staff at Baldwin previously taught under a block schedule before coming to Baldwin, like Math teacher Donna McCord. 

“It’s a completely different environment because it’s an hour and a half (each period),” McCord said. 

McCord enjoyed the form of block scheduling at her old school. It consisted of eight, 90-minute periods split between two days. Every day, students would see four of their classes to then rotate to the other four the next day. 

“I know an hour and a half sounds crazy,” McCord said. “When you finally, as a teacher, get used to this, we have a lot more of a relaxing atmosphere.”

McCord also loved how she was able to spend more time teaching topics she knew her students were unsure of. 

Lutz hopes that if the process begins in January, they will have solid elements in place by 2024. 

“It’s more than just a block schedule,” Lutz said. “It’s how we approach teaching and learning overall.”