Four-day high school week floated
April 4, 2005
Proposed schedule changes for South Tahoe High School centering on a four-day week or four periods a day with more electives are under way for possible implementation next year.
The moves are intended to achieve a variety of goals, from increasing attendance rates to collaborative preparation time for teachers and more electives for students. The change could also reduce infrastructure costs for the cash-strapped district.
Principal Marcia Kaster and others who reported the possible reworking of the schedule to district leaders last week said the change is necessary for flexibility.
“The (current) schedule just limits our choices,” said teacher Bob Grant, one of the few who studied options.
The existing schedule interchanges two three-period days during the week with students either having “A” days with three classes or “B” days with three different classes.
Two models were offered. One, termed the 4-by-4, contains four classes about 80 minutes long during four semester-type terms.
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Benefits for students include a focus on fewer classes and increased possibilities to take electives. Teachers would be instructing three periods a day with time allocated for preparation.
In addition, students would be responsible for a maximum of four classes of homework, not six.
The other option is a four-day school week, with either Monday or Friday off. Students would have four or five classes a day on semester or A/B blocks.
Benefits would include cost savings in transportation and energy, more family time and increased attendance rates, as research indicates.
On Monday several students voiced support for both options. A student survey showed both options were favorable.
Sophomore Casey Costa preferred the 4-by-4 and the chance to take more electives.
“If they were good electives like fashion design,” she said.
Asked about the four-day week and the longer periods, Costa replied: “We’re already at school enough.”
Fellow sophomore Jesika Hamilton liked the four-day school week schedule.
“Then you have the whole extra day to do whatever you want and it saves the school money,” she said.
Some of the negatives of a four-day week are the longer school day, community perception and a possible loss of hours for classified staff. One student said the longer days would conflict with his work schedule.
The downside for the 4-by-4 schedule is transferring students in or out of the district, possible lowering of standardized test scores and disadvantages with Advanced Placement classes.
Other students, like junior John Jury, are against the proposals.
“I say why change something that works?” Jury said.
Kaster is planning to provide parents information on the possible schedules during an open house April 14.
Although information and opinions are still being gathered, Kaster said she would like a change for next school year.
“I’m a risk taker,” she said. “I’m a person who thinks we should jump into it.”
Jury cited one condition where he would support change.
“If school started late I would go for it,” he said.