Complex high school schedule abandoned days from the start of classes

Posted Friday, Aug. 22, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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In the wee hours of Friday morning, Keller district officials gave up trying to make a complicated modified block schedule work for the 10,000 district high school students who go back to class on Monday.

“It was the complexity of the two blocked days with the different lunches,” said Dustin Blank, executive director of leadership. “We couldn’t create schedules that eliminated the conflicts for everyone.”

Instead of having three 90-minute classes in the middle of the day on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the new schedule has nine 45-minute periods daily with one of those being lunch. In the hybrid version, lunch was 25 to 30 minutes. Students now get 45 minutes. Officials shaved a minute from each passing period—now four minutes long—to achieve the longer lunch.

High schoolers usually get their schedules in mid-August when they visit campus at a designated time to get their school identification cards and parking passes.

This summer, administrators realized that schedules would not be ready on time because of the change from a basic seven periods a day to a complicated hybrid schedule with eight periods. Officials had originally said the schedules would be available Friday morning on Home Access Center, the online program that allows families to view schedules, grades, attendance and assignments. On Thursday, they changed the release to 9 a.m. Saturday.

“We have been working with the processing of the schedule since spring, and a lot of man hours have been put into it,” Blank said.

Adding an extra class period is designed to give more opportunities for career and technical classes, a focus of new state mandates from House Bill 5, or additional electives. The school day has been extended by six minutes.

The counseling and technology departments are working with SunGard K-12 Education software to create the schedules. A test run with a small set of students early in the summer was successful in eliminating conflicts, but the complexity of all students created too many problems.

Keller had eight periods in 2010-11 in a different modified block schedule. Instead of students attending the same classes on a certain day of the week, that schedule had “A days” and “B days.” First and last classes met daily while the middle classes alternated.

The Home Access Center will have some information starting today. The link for the online tool is available on the district website: kellerisd.net.

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