Written by Maya Rapoport and Janet Shea
A few weeks ago, Principal Dr. Denise Herrmann found a 23-hour instructional deficit in educational minutes in this year’s schedule when calculating the hours for a potential schedule next year. “We figured it out when we were looking to make sure that any new schedule we were brainstorming for next year would be compatible with minutes of instruction,” Herrmann said.
When previously calculating the total hours of instructional minutes, the Creative Bell Schedule Committee (CSC) did not take into account the days with special schedules, such as school spirit days with extended lunch, or the finals week schedules. The regular schedule for four- and five-day weeks shows that Gunn has 64,800 minutes of instructional time; however, this does not account for the changes made throughout the year to accommodate different events. “We do not run our bell schedule exactly as it is supposed to be; we have all these special schedules, and for very important reasons,” Herrmann said. “The one that’s the biggest draw on our time is final exams, because for three days in a row, you really only come for three hours.”
Herrmann explained that they only realized the instructional deficit a few weeks ago because the school funding is not based on attendance, and there was less emphasis on carefully counting the minutes of instruction. “Now that we know it, we’re obligated to do our due diligence and make sure that going forward, our schedule has plenty of instructional minutes,” she said.
According to CSC member junior Advait Arun, the schedule committee is working on changing next year’s schedule. “For the schedule next year, we are going to eliminate [the] 23-hour deficit [and] we want to find a place for Social Emotional Learning,” Arun said.
Herrmann announced the instructional deficit to the Student Executive Council on Feb. 6. Senior Lucy Augustine says that the CSC is planning on turning Tutorial into a Flex Time to make up for the missing hours. “Since we don’t want to lose the events we changed the schedule for, such as the Clash of the Titans and the Turkey Feast, a few changes to the schedule that were hypothetical before are now definitely going to happen, like moving Tutorial on Thursday to the middle of the day and making it mandatory,” Augustine said. “This means it counts as instructional minutes.”
In addition to changing Tutorial to Flex Time, more changes may be made to next year’s schedule. “Just moving tutorial in barely gets us un-er the wire of what we need, so I think there will be a few other potential [changes],” Herrmann said.
On March 1, Herrmann presented four potential schedules for next year to the staff during the weekly meeting. “The [staff] generated lists for each of the four options of pros and cons,” Herrmann said.
Next week, students and staff will be able to see the four options and fill out a survey to show their preference. “That’s the data that we will use to see how close to consensus [students and staff are],” Herrmann said.
Similarly to Gunn, Paly is also working on developing a new schedule to eliminate their instructional deficit. “They have a creative schedule committee working also. I believe they have it down to three schedule models,” Herrmann said.
According to Augustine, no extra school days will be added this year. “We have the correct number of instructional days, since there are certain days that may not have counted in the past, but do count this year because all grades were required to be there, [like] the day of the PSAT,” Augustine said.
According to Arun, the state reviewed Gunn’s current schedule and expects the school to change so it is in compliance with state law next school year. “As long as the state knows that we are going to change something and make it work, they are fine with us [keeping] the [same] schedule this year,” he said.