Bell schedule change would rotate classes, lengthen school day


TIMES ARE CHANGING: Above is the proposed bell schedule for 2012-2013. Members of the committee that put this possible schedule together said advisory (in pink) was likely to change so that is not at the end of the day.

Dismissal would be at 3:20 p.m. on four days; ‘short’ Wednesdays would run until 2:25 p.m.

Lunch would be shorter and the school day slightly longer.

That’s according to a draft of the new bell schedule a committee of teachers presented to Fremont Federation staff on April 25.

Major changes to the schedule include shorter block periods (from 115 minutes to 79 minutes), a 30-minute lunch with a 10-minute passing period, and advisory on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. A five-minute breakfast would also be served at the end of the first period each day and that would extend the release time to 3:20 p.m. on all days but Wednesdays.

Committee members were teachers Michelle Gonzalez and Thea Marston of College Prep & Architecture Academy, teachers Paul Strain and Sunny Chan from Media Academy and Leadership Coordinator Nidya Baez.

“We wanted to come up with a new bell schedule and make big changes so Fremont would feel like a completely new school,” said Gonzalez.

The week before spring break, the committee surveyed 137 freshmen and sophomores from the three schools about block periods.

“Students want block periods but they want them shorter, so we’re listening to what students are requesting,” said Strain.

However, Miea Manuel, a freshman at CPAA believes the school should maintain the current block schedule.

Block periods “are helpful because they give teachers more time to give tests and students can catch up on work they haven’t finished,” she said.

Another major change to the schedule would be the inclusion of “second chance breakfast” in five minutes at the end of the first period of the morning.

“The clinic recognized the physiological need for breakfast in the morning,” said Strain. “Having breakfast at the end of first period could be really helpful for students who couldn’t get it the first time around.”

The committee wants to keep the lunch time the same, Strain said. Lunch would be held from 12:35 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. on Mondays and from 12:27 p.m. to 1:57 p.m. on Wednesdays, which is within the school day instead of after.

Strain noted that students are usually hungry on minimum days on Wednesday, when they have to wait until 1:22 p.m. to eat lunch.

“Kids are pretty much not present in fifth and sixth period on Wednesdays because they are hungry,” said Gonzalez. “Wednesdays are too short and teachers don’t get enough done.”

Manuel agrees.

“It would be a good idea. Students get tired and don’t focus so it’s better to get out at 2:25 p.m. with lunch than at 1:22 p.m. without lunch,” said Manuel.

Still, students oppose the idea of shortening lunch from 43 minutes to 30 minutes.

“Lunch should be longer because it takes a long time for students to get what they need and have time to eat,” said Manuel.

The committee holds that a shorter lunch will benefit students and teachers alike.

“The reason it’s a shorter lunch is because with our current longer lunch there have been a lot more fights,” said Gonzalez. “It’s more about chaos control and giving teachers more instruction time.”

Strain said that half an hour is an “adequate amount of time” for students to have lunch.

According to Gonzalez, ideas have been proposed to have stations in classrooms around the campus where students to get lunch aside from the cafeteria. Gonzalez said that would enable students to get lunch faster.

Principal Daniel Hurst told teachers that next year students will not have to put in lunch codes because everyone will be receive free lunch.

The schedule would be on a rotation order. The committee has proposed for different periods to be at different times of the day. For example, on Thursdays students would have sixth period in the morning rather than in the afternoon.

“It’s nice,” said Mandela junior Dajanique White of the rotating bell schedule. “I hate seeing the same teachers in the same order every day so the new schedule is a lot better.”

“We didn’t want students to fail based their tardiness,” said Gonzalez. “We want students to be more involved. Their ability to learn changes during the day; students are more focused in fifth period than they are in first.”

Gonzalez said the details have not been finalized and the placement of advisory will probably change on the schedule due to push back from other teachers.