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Hopkins school board considers secondary schedule change

Hopkins school board considers secondary schedule change

HHS is considering a five block by four term schedule, and the current four-block by four-term schedule for HHS, and a six period by two semester schedule for the Jr. Highs.

Sep 13, 2016

On Aug. 30, the Hopkins School Board met to discuss what they call, the Secondary Schedule, or a new schedule for the 2017-18 school year. It is called this because the schedule would be applied in all Secondary schools in the Hopkins district, affecting the majority of current students at HHS.

“A change of schedule would take me awhile to adjust to. If it was a small change, like going to 5 blocks, I think it would grow on me, but a larger one like 7 blocks would greatly affect me, as I like less classes and longer blocks a day,” said Ian Baxter, sophomore and student representative on the Hopkins School Board. “With blocks half as long, I would never be able to fully get concentrated in a class, because of how short they would be.”

A new schedule has been in the works since Mar. of 2016, because of the new budget for the year, which was finalized in January.

Currently, there are three schedules being considered: a five block by four term schedule, and the current four-block by four-term schedule for HHS, and a six period by two semester schedule for the Jr. Highs.

When reviewing a schedule, the School Board looks for certain benefits, or efficiencies in it. These efficiencies include the number of credits possible, the amount of time per class, and the number of employees required.

“Some of the efficiencies we would look at is how many students we put into a class. If you have a class of 36-37 kids, it’s inefficient because of the space in the classrooms,” said John Schultz, Superintendent. “We also don’t want small class sizes because we would need a lot of teachers, which costs more money. We try to find a number somewhere in between to make it efficient.”

It is also important to the School Board to weigh the pros and cons of each of the schedules.

According to the Report to the School Board Secondary Schedule Priorities and Considerations, a six-period day would result in more classes for students and a heavier workload, but less time to focus in class per day. Similarly, a four-block day requires a long attention-span from students, but allows for more credits and electives per year.

“[Having more classes in a day] would make it harder for me [to get good grades]. There would be more classes and homework to try and juggle at one time, and it would probably bring down my GPA,” Baxter said.

There is a strong chance that the current four-block by four-term schedule will stay in effect, as it has many of the efficiencies that are being looked for.

“What we’ve discovered in the study of [the four-by-four schedule] is that we can build in efficiencies in how we schedule [students]. We are trying to look at making the scheduling of [students’] current schedule more efficient,” Schultz said.

The decision to move the Hopkins District to the four-block schedule was made in 1995, in the hopes of expanding the variety of classes available to students. In this schedule, a student can take 16 credits a year, whereas in a six or seven period schedule, a student can only take 12 or 14 credits, respectively.

According to the 1995 Hopkins High School Four Block proposal, other benefits of the four-block include smaller class sizes, fewer courses per day, more focus on those courses, and a more effective use of time with less distractions.

Donna Adams, Hopkins Compensation Model (HCM) Peer Coach for Library Media Specialists and a member of the HHS faculty group who proposed the four-block schedule 20 years ago, says another driving factor in this decision was the potential to benefit students.

The original proposal to change the schedule to the four-block schedule was based on increasing course choices for students, providing more opportunities for acceleration or remediation, and more time for innovative teaching strategies,” Adams said.

A major consequence to consider is if HHS were to move to a six or seven period day, the school risks major cuts in electives and opportunities for students to double up or catch up if needed because of the 25 percent reduction in classes. Although removing the four-block would save the district money, there are concerns about how many students would leave for another school that offers the four-block schedule.

“The four-block schedule draws a lot of people from other schools to come to Hopkins. This means that we would probably lose a lot of people who like the four-block,”  Baxter said. “The four-block really works for me, and as of right now, I would want to keep the schedule as it is.”

Currently, the only other schools on the four-block schedule around the Hopkins area are Eden Prairie and Wayzata. Edina and Minnetonka are on a six period schedule, while Armstrong and St. Louis Park are on a seven period schedule.

The School Board will be discussing their options and making a final decision at the School Board meeting on Sept. 22.


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