High School Scheduling Questions Discussed at School Board

January 6, 2017


by Jay Hobson

In response to questions raised to school board members from some parents and students regarding future scheduling at the high school, Pelham High School Principal Gary Dempsey gave an update to members at the Dec. 21 school board meeting.

“I received one email as I recall from a student regarding calc. or pre-calc and I’m not sure if other members have received emails, but we’re on a path where people have concerns,” said School Board Chairman Brian Carton.

Dempsey said that he had set up meetings with 11th and 12th graders.

“We’re going to talk to them when they’re signing up for classes next month,” he said.  “I met with the juniors, and they were pretty emotional, so after that meeting I sent out personal emails to the parents explaining the process and if the kids have any questions to come talk to me.  To date I’ve had seven meetings with parents and students and 13 meetings with individual students who came down to meet with me.  I always have an open door policy.  I have answered 25 emails and some of those were college course related.”

Dempsey said that after the meetings with the students “things were very positive, and one gentleman said ‘this makes a lot of sense.’”

“The biggest thing we talked about was the gap in instruction,” he explained.  “If the student had a math course senior year in semester one, and went to college in September and took a college (math) class; that’s a seven- or eight-month gap in instruction and people realize that’s not good.”

Dempsey said that there were four main areas of concern, the stress of having eight classes, taking pre-calculus and calculus in the same year, students becoming overwhelmed, and having eight finals.

“Seniors have two high-stakes exams, SATs in the fall and the college AP exams in the spring,” he explained.  “Let’s say you’ve had a math course offered second semester, you’d be in the math course while you are taking the SAT in the fall.  So I think the student would be at a disadvantage.  Another question was ‘can I take Pre-calc and Calc in the same year?’  That was a big one, so I did some research, and, in the last four years, that has only been an option two out of the last four years, and that’s really a numbers issue because they offer calculus in the first semester because of the SAT issue and it was the prerequisite for AP calc.”

Board member David Wilkerson asked if all the issues were resolved.

“Are you satisfied that all of them or some of them are resolved?” Wilkerson said.

“I think that I can always do a better job of communicating,” Dempsey said.

“I just want to know if we are at a point where all the concerns have been satisfactorily met, or are we at 80 percent or 90 percent?” Wilkerson said.

Dempsey said that he had a meeting with one more parent after the break between Christmas and New Year.

“Given that, every parent that I’ve met with seemed satisfied,” Dempsey said.

He further said that anyone with a question should send him an email and a meeting would be scheduled.