New school year brings a new schedule

The 2019-2020 school year will say goodbye to late start days and hello to minimum days as a new schedule is being proposed to the school board. On May 21, Steve Lepire, principal, presented the new bell schedule to the board, citing the need for more teacher collaborative time as the main reason for the change.

“One of the things that we were trying to do is create more collaborative time, scheduled collaborative time for our teachers, not just at lunch, and not just the late starts,” Lepire said.

Stephen Johnson, history teacher, helped coordinate the teacher vote for the new schedule, which took place on April 10. To pass, 70% of the teachers had to vote for the new schedule, and the result was 76% voted for the minimum days.

“We’ll try this for a year and then the teachers vote on it, whether or not to continue it or go back to what we had before,” Johnson said.

The minimum days would be almost every Wednesday throughout the year, starting at the same time as normal days but ending at 12:40 p.m., with 80 minute class periods. According to Lepire, the two to three month process of crafting the new schedule included the option of keeping the late start days. However, the minimum days offered more instructional minutes, 305 minutes more, and more collaborative time, increasing the number of days from 13 to 32.

“We were finding that we wanted to make some changes, structurally with our curriculum and coming up with common assessments and doing some things to improve our teaching, but we didn’t have time to work together with the constraints of the current schedule,” Johnson said.

For most students, the school day will end before the teacher collaboration and lunch time, but for students in fifth periods, both academic classes and athletic teams, their classes fall after the collaboration time. On Wednesday minimum days, fifth period will start at the time it does under the current schedule, 2:05 p.m.

“The initial schedule that came out (did) not have fifth period on the minimum days,” Johnson said. “They wanted to keep the same ending schedule for most teachers, because some of them were coaching or doing other things that have obligations. They decided we need fifth period in the schedule, so the best solution would be to keep it at two o’clock.”

Mackenzie Moffit, junior, has a fifth period this year and will have it again next year, and she called this part of the new schedule “annoying.” Moffit and other fifth period students, like Shelby Sulloway, junior, were concerned about what students would do in the gap between the end of fourth period and the beginning of fifth. Currently, Lepire says the plan is to have the library, tutoring center, and cafeteria open.

“I think it would be better to have resources or something, maybe activities or a study hall if you don’t even want to go to the library, because sometimes it’s kind of loud there,” Sulloway said.

The schedule was presented at school site council meetings, Principal’s Coffee, and PFA meetings, and Lepire says that parents were “really excited about the consistency of it being on Wednesdays.” However, the general student body was not consulted and some students were unaware there was even a proposed new schedule. Varna Kanapuram, junior, “heard from word of mouth” about the new schedule, and although she feels that an early dismissal would be nice, she wished she could have been involved in the decision making.

“I didn’t know anything about the new schedule (at first),” Kanapuram said. “I definitely think we should’ve been given an option to provide our input in this new schedule.”

The schedule will be voted on at the next school board meeting, June 4, after which, the most updated school calendar for the 2019-2020 school year will be posted.

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