Lee County schools changing high school schedules to help solve teacher shortages

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
The School District of Lee County (CREDIT: WINK News)

Significant changes are coming to Lee County high school schedules. Starting next school year, Lee County schools will have seven periods instead of four.

The district and the teachers union have differing opinions on the adjustment. They disagree on whether the change will help the teacher shortage at Fort Myers High School or anywhere else.

The district says it’s simple. Fewer classes mean fewer teachers are needed. The union argues those teachers will have to do more in less time, which could drive teachers away.

The change will have teachers and high school students seeing more of each other come next school year. Gone will be the four long classes every other day. They will be replaced by seven shorter classes every day.

Interim Superintendent Doctor Ken Savage said the move will help close the learning gap. “What this allows us to do is for the classes that students do have with their teachers, they pick up 720 minutes of additional instruction in each class,” said Savage.

It also means students will take seven classes instead of eight. That means Lee County schools will need 140 fewer teachers.

Superintendent Savage estimated the change will save the district $10 million, money the district can spend on teacher raises. “Even more important than hiring new employees is retaining our existing employees,” Savage said.

Kevin Daly, with the teachers union, thinks the new schedule will have the opposite effect. He said teachers will have more classes to teach and less time to prepare. “There is a lot of anxiety and a little bit of anger around the change,” said Daly. “More workload and less time to handle it during the contract hours, so that equates to more time off the clock on the weekends or at night and things like that because things need to be graded, work needs to be done.”

Making matters worse, Daly said no one with Lee County schools involved teachers in the process of adjusting the schedule. “They do not feel like they had a voice,” Daly said.

“The district says it did bring the teachers union into the conversation, but Daly said in his opinion, the decision to change schedules was already final.

A district spokesperson said the superintendent and other district leaders “consulted” with the school board and the incoming superintendent, but said this was a management decision.

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