Searching for ways to improve things on the campus at Gilbert Intermediate, Principal Tylor Chaplin addressed the Stephenville Independent School District (SISD) board Monday night with a simple way to build stronger relationships and offer more course options to students.

Chaplin said that on the school campus, which is home to more than 500 students, the biggest problem is overcrowding in the classrooms. “The larger classes makes it difficult to develop strong relationships with the students,” Chaplin said. “I feel that smaller classes are the key to more effective instruction.”

Chaplin asked the board of trustees to approve a change in the school’s class schedule.

“I would like to change the current schedule from a seven to an eight period day,” Chaplin said.

The change, which will only amount to five minutes here and there, will offer great advantages in the lives of the district’s fifth and sixth graders.

“The increase to an eight period day will cut each period from 50 to 45 minutes,” Chaplin said. “The day will be extended an additional five minutes, making release time at 3:30 p.m. rather than 3:25.”

The real benefit will be seen as the number of students in the school’s classrooms is decreased.

“Each class will be reduced by three or four students,” Chaplin said. “The smaller class sizes will allow for more one-on-one instruction and will help build stronger relationships between the teachers and students.”

The board agreed that stronger relationships and more individualized instruction would be a positive change for Gilbert students, faculty and staff.

“I was a teacher for years, and I would have loved the opportunity to have more time to work individually with my students,” said board member Ora Lee Leeth. “I think it is a great idea and I am all for it.”

Chaplin explained that students would still attend a homeroom period and also have break times associated with their lunch period.

Another big benefit will be seen the kid’s choices in electives. “Students will be offered more of the courses they want to take,” Chaplin said. “Kids will be able to take more than one elective. A student could stay in band but also have the option to take art or other elective.”

Chaplin explained that the change has already been explained to the incoming fifth graders and their parents and scheduling information will be sent home with report cards of incoming sixth graders.