Staff, administrators consider schedule change for next year

Math teacher Marty Mackar confers with sophomore Arianna Brunello during their G2 class.  The 90-minute block schedule allows for more opportunities for students to meet with their teachers, but some students struggle to sit through classes of that length.  Assistant principal Jarrod Mulheman doesnt know what schedule will be used next year but said, I know that the majority of staff favor the block.

Math teacher Marty Mackar confers with sophomore Arianna Brunello during their G2 class. The 90-minute block schedule allows for more opportunities for students to meet with their teachers, but some students struggle to sit through classes of that length. Assistant principal Jarrod Mulheman doesn’t know what schedule will be used next year but said, “I know that the majority of staff favor the block.”

Luke Schofield and Jashman Buttar

Teachers and administrators on the Scheduling Committee have been meeting regularly for a few months, working and collaborating to create a new bell schedule for the 2022-2023 school year.

Jarrod Mulheman, the Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Staff Development, is one of the decision-makers on the committee. He said, “I do not know what the final decision will be yet for next year. We are still figuring a lot of stuff out. The committee is working on it right now to make a schedule that will satisfy everyone’s needs.”

The committee’s main decision is to either keep the current block schedule or to return to the traditional eight-period day. Mulheman said, “The pros for the block allow more in-depth classes. More hands-on classes have benefited. Art classes and even science classes have been able to do complete labs in one class now.”

A return to the eight-period day would mean 50 minute class periods, instead of the 90 minutes. “Teachers get to see their kids every day and our lunch and study hall were beneficial to having students eat in the cafeteria. I think there was just more consistency as well,” Mulheman said, as he referred to the former schedule which was used pre-Covid.

The current block schedule has caused problems for staff and administration, according to Mulheman. He said, “The cons can be having long stretches of time without seeing teachers, or just not seeing teachers every day. More so, right now the lunch situation is horrible and most students are back in school.”

Principal Jeff Legan is a member of the Scheduling Committee, and he said many students prefer the eight-period day. “Some kids hate math, so to subject someone to do something they hate for an hour and a half compared to fifty minutes, that’s a long time.”

Junior Austin Ziance experienced the block schedule in his freshman year, and now he’s had a year and a half of the block schedule. He prefers the block schedule.

“I love having two days to do homework and not having the same classes each day. It’s also much more convenient with study halls or release time because it allows us to go home during that time whereas we wouldn’t be able to if we had eight periods,” he said.

A return to the eight-period day would mean a bell schedule of 7:30am-3:00pm, which Ziance doesn’t prefer. He said, “It’s a longer school day, earlier start, and shorter classes. It all makes it more difficult for me to concentrate on the lessons.”

According to Mulheman, the initial change to block schedule was directly impacted by the pandemic. “It was meant to reduce passing time and to decrease the load of course content each day for online students. For in-person students, it was meant to increase safety and security for Covid – it definitely worked,” he said.

The change to block schedule directly impacted teachers, and Mulheman thinks they’ve done well at adjusting despite little notice. Mulheman said, “Our teacher instructional leadership team has done a great job, meeting after school once a month, and organizing professional development days.”

As the Scheduling Committee is nearing its final decision, the process is far from over. Mulheman said, “Our high school scheduling committee will send a proposal to Dr.Barnes. If he approves of it, the proposal is then sent to the school board who will make the final decision hopefully within a month or so.”