Switching back to a common bell system was discussed by the Manawa School Board at its Sept. 20 meeting.
The three-bell system was enacted at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year to accommodate the addition of seventh and eighth graders at Little Wolf Junior/Senior High School. The plan was to keep the middle school students separated by giving them a separate bell to end a class period before the high school bell sounded.
After encountering some problems, Principal Troy White experimented with switching back to the two-bell system for a few days.
White explained there were about 31 tardies reported with the three-bell system. The number fell to 17 students tardy with the common bell system. Also, teachers were not available to monitor the hallways for the first bell because senior high classes were still in session. Often the middle school students would be waiting, unsupervised in the hallway, to enter a classroom full of senior high students.
“We now have a common bell, so everybody is moving at the same time,” White stated. “The common bell system works better for supervision and attendance.”
“We feel the problems are easier to correct in the one-bell system,” he explained. “We may need to change some passing patterns to accommodate all students passing at the same time.”
Another problem is an overcrowded lunchroom. White said this could be resolved with a slight adjustment to the schedule, such as releasing the senior high students a few minutes before the junior high students.
“High school students like the three-bell system, because there was a warning bell three minutes before their bell,” White stated. “But teachers lost instructional time because the students packed up early.”
The board reminded the administrators that the bell system was a big issue during the transition from three buildings to two buildings. Parents were worried about their middle school students mingling with the older students in the hallways. The three-bell system was intended to keep the lower grade levels separated from the high school students.
White assured the board that there have been no reported instances of bullying since the merge.
The board agreed it was best to go with White’s recommendation.
“If it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else,” stated board president Dan Nolan. “We’ll see what happens.”