Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Education

January 23, 2014

A new approach

High school schedule to be built from scratch

(Continued)

A new high school schedule format was the root cause of contract talks between the teachers union and school officials stalling for 11/2 years between 2011 and 2012.

Duclos said the collaborative process this time around would help impact bargaining, since teachers will have played as pivotal a role in developing the schedule as administrators.

“We have strong, good people on the committee. There’s an overall sense of, ‘We will get this done, and we will find the best schedule,’” Duclos said. “We’ll present the schedule as a whole, knowing it was collaboratively done. The way in which it gets developed will put things into perspective.”

What the new schedule will look like remains to be seen. Duclos said the high school must maintain the state’s requirement that students complete 990 minutes of academics a year. A schedule with too many periods would have to take into account the considerable passing time required between classes, which would impact the time spent in academics, she said.

There would also be “the instructional impact that the length of a class period has,” Duclos said. “We’re trying to maintain opportunities for kids to really engage in their learning. You really can’t do that if you’re seeing kids for 45 minutes.”

There are some parameters of the schedule design that “are nonnegotiable,” Duclos said. Others are likely to come to light after teachers weigh in next week.

Beyond that, how many periods and blocks per day, or even when school will open and close, remains up in the air, she said.

“That’s part of our discovery process,” she said.

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