Schedule changes coming next school year

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Morgan Barr , Reporter

Recently, it was revealed that Big Spring High School may get a new schedule for the 2017-2018 school year, pending approval, and if the schedule works with the current computer system. The set up for this new schedule includes changes to classes as well as Flex time. “The general structure is the same, except for the block or skinny options in the morning and the afternoon, in what’s currently periods 2 and 3, instead of having 6 periods, there will be four, but students can take up to 6 classes [at one time].” said Bill August, high school principal.

Jocelyn Kraus, guidance counselor said, “The new schedule is designed to help students have increased flexibility in their course work.” In the new schedule, Period 1 for all students will be a block (80 minute semester class) and Period 2 will either be one block, or two “skinnies” (40 minute year-long classes). The afternoon schedule reflects the morning, with students having the option of taking either two skinnies or one block during period 4, and one block during period 5.

Although those new changes bring more variety to the class schedule, the biggest change to the new schedule is that starting next year, there will be 3 Flex Time periods, instead of only two. To accommodate to this change, school will start at 7:23 instead of 7:33. “We wanted to preserve what makes us unique, but how can we best utilize that time for kids and staff.” said August. According to August, Big Spring is the only school he has come across with a schedule allowing students to pick where they want to go (Flex Time), and dedicates time to allowing students to get extra help during school. With three flexes, or the TriFlexa, as it has been dubbed, votech students will now have the opportunity to be bused back to school if they are failing their courses at Big Spring. August said, “Flex needs to evolve in my opinion. It shouldn’t just be a glorified study hall. We have something almost no other schools have. Realistically, we should have very few failures in school, or that can’t get work done since we have this time. I think it has gotten better, but we need to make sure that it is more institutionalized.”

The new flex schedule also allows for clubs that need more than 30 minutes to hold meetings for an hour instead. It also provides students who often work through lunches, or that have back to back clubs, a chance to actually sit down and eat their lunch, or visit the cafeteria or Growler to eat instead of eating in the classroom. “A number of students ask if they can go to multiple flexes, having working lunches. Having the option of going to 2 and still having a lunch period. I suspect some students will still do working lunches, but 30 more minutes in a day has a lot of upside.” August said.

Lauren Hetrick, a history teacher, and club adviser at the high school, said, “So many students are involved in so many different things. I like the idea that there are more periods of time, [and] I like that during B Triflexa, everyone is doing something. My only concern, is how to create that balance for those students that have to prep for all 3 Keystones and are in 3 clubs. How does that work?”

“It also allows helps if a kids failing, and two teachers pull him, having two flexes in a day, that if a kids a failing in specific department, on certain days they will have priority. That and the ability to have designated AP review sessions, there’s at least once a week, so kids that are in AP class will have a designated day that their teacher can call them as well.” August said. The new Triflexa will also allow for certain departments to have priority on different days during Flex to call students that need extra help, or for AP review. For example, Mondays the department would get first choice of the students they can call for Flex, and other teachers can call for the second Flex, or the student can go another day. This can also be helpful for students that have been out of school for longer periods of time. They will be able to go to multiple teachers in one day to get caught up, and still be able to eat lunch. They can also go to each individual department on a certain day of the week, which could help students coming back to not feel as overwhelmed.

Some teachers remain concerned about the amount the amount of skinnies they will have to teach, and if this will give them more work. “All we know as teachers [right now] is how many sections of courses we will be teaching. I know what I’m teaching, but not when it’s going to be offered. It’s possible that at certain times, I may have more grading to do, but teachers will not be teaching all four skinnies.” Hetrick said.

The schedule changes only allow for 8 credits to be taken per year, but this will not affect how many credits seniors need to graduate.  Kraus said, “No, students will still complete 8 credits each year, and will have to pass 28 credits to graduate.”