Last year Hagen (Junior High School) installed two gates across Fourth Street West, in essence linking Berg (Elementary) to Hagen. The gates are used to block traffic and protect students as they cross the street to attend class at Berg. This decision was good based on the number of students crossing the street on a daily basis.
Currently, Hagen has to utilize Berg for 21 courses due to a lack of space. The movement across to Berg is not an efficient use of time.
As of Friday morning, there are 494 credits taken at Berg by Hagen students. Eighth graders take U.S. History at Berg. There are three sections of seventh-grade geography, seventh-grade physical education and eighth-grade Spanish. When students travel to Berg, they lose instructional time.
Having to gather needed material and clothing, students are usually about two minutes late to class at Berg. They leave their classrooms two minutes early so they are on time for the next class at Hagen. The amount of time lost in a 175-day school year is quite staggering. If 494 credits are taken at Berg by Hagen students, with each students losing approximately 4 minutes of instructional time per day, then 345,800 minutes of teacher instruction are lost per year.
Instructional minutes lost are not the only issue for students going to Berg. Teachers that are required to utilize the elementary building also face challenges. These teachers face lost-work time, constant monitoring of students during travel, transportation of instructional materials, and challenges with communication with the main campus.
Although the utilization of Berg Elementary is not a perfect plan, it is currently working. The difficult decisions will come when Berg needs its own classrooms back starting next year. The current fifth grade class has 294 students enrolled compared to this year’s sixth-grade students. When this class moves into Berg next year, some Hagen sections will need to be removed, exacerbating the problem at Hagen. Many difficult decisions regarding teacher placement and student opportunities will need to be made.
If next year is not enough of a challenge, in the 2017-18 school year the student population of Berg and Hagen combined will approach or exceed 900 students total. This is approximately 150 more than the current enrollment of the two buildings. I am hopeful this helps illuminate just one of the many reasons the bond elections on Oct. 7 is being conducted.
Cassie Francis Assistant principal, Hagen Junior High School, Dickinson.