Breaking the Block Schedule?

On September 21, the Curriculum and Instruction committee and principal Tom Chambers met to discuss possible schedule changes.

“I think it went well; I presented the information that we have so far on different types of schedules, and they want to get some more information on that,” said Chambers. “We will be interviewing and talking with a number of schools that have different schedules to get more information.”

 The school has now set a timeline for making this decision; the school board will decide in February. The administration has many points to consider in the meantime.

“It’s hard to come up with real solid data to say that this particular schedule makes smart kids…there are so many factors in what makes a good learning environment,” said Chambers.

 The main thing is to decide if a 45 or an 85 minute class is better for students.

 “One of the things we’re looking at is to see if it’s better for a student to be in a class for 45 minutes, or is it better for them to be in class for 85 minutes. Where do they learn better?” said Chambers.

 Another issue the administration has to consider is which classes will benefit from a a shorter class period, and which will benefit from a longer class period.

 “Changing the schedule, whether its from a block to a seven or eight period day, that might help music classes because music wants to be 45 minutes,” said Chambers, “but it might create problems for Biology or Chemistry where they want to do bigger labs. It certainly would create problems for tech ed. when they want to go out to the house to build and they only have 45 minutes, and they have to drive for 5 or 10 minutes one way. ”

Other departments, like math and foreign language, would like to run all year long. Those departments would benefit from a 45-minute class length.

“By solving one problem we’re creating another problem, so we have to be really careful on how we make change, and why we make change,” said Chambers.

No matter how much thought the administration puts into this decision, not every scheduling conflict will be solved.

“You’re never going to solve all scheduling conflicts because you’re always going to have a certain number of teachers, a certain number of students and a certain number of courses you can offer. A student is never going to be able to take every single class that is offered. It’s physically impossible to be in two places at one time,” said Chambers.

But it’s not necessarily about solving every problem; it’s about creating a better learning environment for students.

“We want to do what’s best for the learning of the kids; it’s not what’s convenient for the teachers […] or even what’s most convenient for a kid’s schedule. It’s what’s most effective for their education,” said Chambers.