Keller school district officials plan to implement an eight-period schedule in the high schools next year to provide more opportunities for students.
“House Bill 5 makes the eight-period day something we need to move to,” said Superintendent Randy Reid.
Administrators and trustees discussed the change at the Dec. 19 board meeting.
House Bill 5, which became law in June, requires districts to offer multiple paths to graduation, which means an increased focus on career and technology education.
Keller had variations on an eight-period schedule for many years before moving to seven periods in 2011 to cut costs. Officials estimate that the extra session will cost the district about $2.5 million because of the need for additional teachers and materials.
Educators discussed restoring the eighth period last year but decided to delay it because of uncertainty about finances and workload on staff members as a result of changes in state testing.
The state and local economies have improved and House Bill 5 reduces the number of high school end-of-course exams in addition to the expansion of diploma options.
As students begin to preregister for 2014-15 classes, they will need to sign up for eight periods, but administrators are still working out the details on what the schedule will be.
Several board members asked that as many teachers as possible give input on how best to incorporate the extra period.
Dustin Blank, executive director of leadership, said that administrators were gathering teacher input and had not finalized the schedule.
They are planning some type of modified block schedule with some classes meeting daily for 45 minutes and others meeting every other day for 90 minutes.
The daily classes would be at the beginning and end of the school day to accommodate sports and music activities, Blank said.
Trustee Cindy Lotton said, “I think we’ve done every possible schedule, so it’s not going to be that foreign to most of our teachers.”
In the past, Keller has operated on eight-period schedules that had accelerated block components with classes meeting 90 minutes a day for a semester, alternating blocks with 90-minute classes meeting every other day and a modified block similar to the current proposal.
Blank said that teachers should benefit from an extra planning period. Instead of teaching six of seven periods, they will teach six of eight.
Reid said the big winners will be athletes, musicians and others involved in intensive extra-curricular programs because they “haven’t been able to fit creative course work into their schedule.”