Children and Youth

San Benito High School considers changes to bell schedule

The goal is to increase the amount of time teachers have interacting with students and adding structured, academic-focus time during the day for all students

Contributed by San Benito High School Communications Director, Adam Breen

With the dual goals of increasing the frequency of teachers’ academically-focused contact time with students and designating structured, academic focus time during the day for all students, San Benito High School is working on draft bell schedules for the 2018-19 academic year.

A committee comprised of teachers, classified staff, administrators and a member of the district Board of Trustees has met over the past year to establish the academic and instructional needs of students within a bell schedule.

“The committee has had conversations revolving around the challenges of our current schedule, what components are needed for a new schedule, and what resources are needed to research those options,” Director of Educational Services Elaine Klauer explained.

The current, alternating block schedule, features a 62-minute “Zero Period,” from 7:35-8:37 a.m. every Tuesday through Friday, with a 105-minute block followed by two 100-minute blocks every other day — with break and lunch interspersed. Thursdays are early-release days, with classes ending at 1:50 p.m. so academic departments can have planning time each week.

The challenge of the current schedule, Klauer said, is the infrequency of student contact because of the rotating block schedule. For example, every other week — barring a vacation break — students will see three of their teachers just twice in one week, while they have their other three classes three times that week.

“Weeks with only two contacts present a challenge,” Klauer says, “especially if a student is absent. It makes it very difficult for a student to catch up with work when multiple days are missed.”

The current schedule also doesn’t include an intervention period for all students. “Students have access to Academy classes, Algebra Support and Reading Support if they qualify, but before- and after-school tutorials have had very low participation rates for more than three years,” according to Klauer. “It is also inequitable for those students who cannot attend before or after school due to transportation or student activity conflicts, such as athletics.”

As a result of its research and discussions, the committee brought forward two schedules for stakeholder feedback, which has already included a certificated staff forum in early January, the Associated Student Body meeting on Jan. 11 and the School Site Council and Migrant meetings on Jan. 24. All meetings included an opportunity to ask questions and provide written feedback to the schedule committee.

The first of two proposed schedules does not change the frequency by which teachers see students, but it incorporates 35-minute intervention blocks after the morning break on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Thursdays would remain as early release days during which academic departments hold afternoon PLC (planned learning community) meetings for all teachers.

The first proposal would move the daily instructional start time up from 8:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., with the end of the day remaining at 3 p.m.

The second proposal increases student contact time from five per two weeks to six per two weeks, moving the total number of teacher-student classroom contacts from 90 to 108 over the course of a 180-day school year.

Schedule #2 incorporates 40-minute intervention blocks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with three rotating blocks still a part of the schedule, though each would be 90 minutes in duration, rather than the current 100 to 105 minutes. Under this proposal, the passing time between classes would be shortened from 10 minutes to 8 minutes. The regular school day would run from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The bell schedule review continues with introduction of the proposed schedules at the Jan. 30 classified staff and Student Congress meetings, the Feb. 1 Academic Task Force meeting, the Feb. 7 DELAC meeting and a Feb. 15 certificated staff meeting, where feedback from all stakeholders will be revisited and teachers will have the opportunity to ask questions, make comments or bring up concerns.

After all stakeholders have provided feedback, the Bell Schedule Committee will meet again to discuss the feedback collected and decide on next steps.

 

SBHSD

Founded in 1875, San Benito High School is the largest, comprehensive high school in the county, serving nearly 3,000 students. Our mission is to educate all students to their highest potential so they will have the greatest range of personal options upon graduation.