Recently, the Seattle public school district has decided that there will be a major change in coming to Seattle Public High Schools in the coming years. An email, sent on November 21st by Garfield’s academic dean, Kris McBride, stated that Garfield will be piloting a new schedule in the 2018-19 school year. The email states that the district is “mandating that we offer 32 credit opportunities for students in their 4 years,” adding two periods to a student’s course load. Since then, Garfield’s administration has decided that this quick of a change is not realistic, and that the schedule will not be implemented until the 2019-20 school year.
“The district has said they will fund us so that classes can cap at 25 students,” said McBride in the email. Despite this, the new schedule would violate certain contractual issues like the fact that teachers would be teaching more than 5 periods a day and would have more than 150 students.
The intention of the schedule change is to allow students to take more than six classes a year and eventually earn more than 24 credits for graduation. “The district had said that they were going to create a new schedule for comprehensive high schools that would allow kids to earn more than the current 24 credits over four years and schools would have a couple of different options to look at.” said McBride.
By the 2019-20 school year every comprehensive high school in Seattle will be implementing the eight period day schedule. “Originally the district was going to work toward making a change for next year, but then they said ‘Oh no, that was too fast, but there might be schools that want to choose to do some changes for next year,’ and that’s where we fall,” said McBride.
Initially, Garfield administration decided that Garfield should look into changing schedules for this coming school year, acting as a pilot for this program. “The school administration decided that it would be good to examine the possibility of moving forward for next year, so it wasn’t an all school decision,” said McBride.
There are several options the district has taken into account on ways the new schedule should be split up. “Some schools do eight periods every single day, some do four one day, the other four the next day and just keep flipping back and forth, like Bellingham school district does that, and that’s one of the schedules that I know the district is really interested in,” said McBride. “Cleveland high school currently has an eight period schedule and they do the flip-flop except on day a week they do eight periods. Other schools take all eight periods and split them so you do four first semester and the other four all second semester. So there is different ways to split it up and still you’re earning eight credits a year,” said McBride.
Math teacher Ian Sample surveyed his students and found that many felt the schedule change would not be beneficial to them. This was primarily because they felt if there were eight periods that would mean there would be more homework and less time to complete it. According to McBride however, no matter which schedule is picked, the length of the school day will not be changed.
Currently, the district is looking into modeling our schedule after the Bellingham school district’s schedule.“Somebody from the district came to a meeting this morning that a bunch of us sat in and he said that there is a lot of interest in moving toward the Bellingham model,” said McBride. This would mean students would go to four periods a day, alternating depending on the day of the week (as well as an advisory period). This would cause each class to be 85 minutes long
According to McBride,with this schedule many upperclassmen will still have the option to have off periods, like many currently do .“It doesn’t mean that every student has to take eight periods, just like right now we have a lot of students that don’t take all six. I am assuming that there will be a lot of similarities if we had an eight period day,” said McBride. However, if a student is not enrolled in all eight periods, they will not be eligible to waive PE with an academic waiver. “Part of the (academic waiver) policy is that you have to have a full schedule so whatever the schedule is you have to have a full schedule because otherwise you would have room in your schedule for PE,” said McBride.
There are still several issues to be worked out before the it can be assured that the schedule will change next year.“There are so many things that have to happen no make it a viable option,” said McBride. “Nothing is set in stone, this has all happened very quickly in the last week or two,” said McBride.
Q&A with a Cleveland student:
Senior Eva Sukphon-Devita
What is your schedule like now?
“We have an A and B day schedule for all days of the week except Wednesday. Wednesday is an anchor day which means we have all eight classes. Mondays and Thursdays are A days where you go to period one, three, five, and seven, and B days—Tuesdays and Fridays— are the same except you got to period two, four, six, and eight.”
How long are your classes?
“Each class is thirty minutes long on Wednesday and lunch and advisory are both twenty minutes long. On A and B days, each class is eighty-five minutes, and lunch is thirty minutes and advisory is twenty.”
How long has this system been at Cleveland?
“All of highschool. Well, anchor days were on monday and classes were forty-five minutes long until this year.”
Do classes last a full year or just a semester?
“It depends, electives like art and gym for example are one semester. AP classes or core classes are a full year.”
Are there classes that you have to take?
“You have to take math, which some years is a block class and some years and some years not, and then humanities which is always a block.”
What are block classes?
“Block classes are classes that take two periods. So right now I am in AP stat which is periods one and two and AP bio which is periods three and four. So, with our schedule I go to my block periods everyday.