BERKELEY – Central Regional middle and high schools will experiment with block scheduling in May before switching over to it permanently for the 2017-2018 school year, officials said.
Students will have two schedules that alternate back and forth, board member Wilson told members of the public at the January 19 Board of Education meeting. The days will be made up of three 90-minute classes and one 45-minute class.
On one day, there will be four classes. On the next, they will have four different classes.
The days will be called garnet days and gold days, named after the school colors.
The start and end times of school will be the same, she added. Much to the students’ delight, lunch will increase from 25 minutes to 27 minutes. The scheduling will not affect midterms or finals.
The district has been working on this for three years, Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides said. District officials have been visiting other districts where block scheduling is done in order to learn what works.
“It’s a half mile from our gym to our library,” Parlapanides said. The goal was to cut down on wasted transition time between classes. Currently, he said there are 11 transitions per day. Every time there’s a transition, there are a few minutes in the beginning and end of class that are lost.
An additional benefit is that students will not have seven subjects worth of new homework a day, he said. Also, if a student is absent, they only have to make up half of their subjects.
There are down sides to the change as well, he said. In the event of an absence, the student would lose twice as much time from whatever subjects were on that day. Ultimately, there were more pros than cons in making the change.
According to an online presentation, (found here: tinyurl.com/centralblocksched) other challenges include students and teachers adjusting to the change, and students having the attention span for classes twice as long. The benefits include the ability to do things that a shorter class would not allow, like special projects, team teaching, and the use of technology.
In related news, students were asked what kinds of academies to bring in to Central. These would be a group of courses focusing on a theme, almost like taking a college major. The district already has a humanities academy, digital media academy, and leadership academy.
Students expressed interest in business and horticulture academies, Wilson said. Additionally, there was some interest in academies for medicine, law, criminology, culinary, fashion, and fitness and nutrition.
In other news, high school Principal Doug Corbett presented four seniors of the month to be honored at the meeting: Jillian McNicholl, Nicholas Viespoli, Taylor Veve and Connor McShaffrey.