New bell schedule prompts negative student reaction

Teachers approved major changes to the bell schedule by a margin of more than two to one, angering many students.

In a vote that took place a week after the Green & Gold published the proposed bell schedule, 23 of 34 teachers, or 68 percent of the staff, voted that the bell schedule design would at least adequately meet student needs.

But Media Academy Physiology and Biology teacher Paul Strain, who was on the original bell schedule committee but who did not participate in the most recent meetings, voted against the plan.

“A lot of students don’t feel that it’s a student-friendly schedule that meets their needs,” said Strain.

One difference between the bell schedule that the newspaper published on May 11 and the one that teachers approved that next week is that Tuesdays will start with first period instead of fourth period. The bell schedule committee had originally hoped to alternate the times that classes meet because teenagers tend to perform differently depending on the time of day.

“They changed it because people were complaining,” said bell schedule committee member Michelle Gonzalez.

Big changes to the bell schedule remain. There will be three days of block periods, although the blocks periods are 79 minutes instead of 115 minutes. There will be lunch during the school day on Wednesdays instead of after it, which will lengthen the day until 2:25 p.m., and there will be six periods on Fridays.

It remains unclear if the school actually will be able to have a “second chance” breakfast during the first period of every day, lengthening the school day by five minutes each day.

In a second vote, teachers decided to have the new 50-minute advisory sessions as the very last period of the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Teachers were given a second chance to vote on the length of lunch and possibly extend it by 10 minutes. However, teachers voted to keep lunch at 30 minutes, plus a 10-minute passing period, which was the original proposal.

Overall, students are unhappy.

“I feel that the new schedule is confusing and idiotic, just because we are combining the schools, we shouldn’t have to made dramatic changes to everything else,” said Mandela Academy junior Nick Ross.

However, Principal Daniel Hurst said he believes students and staff will adjust to the new schedule quickly.
“[Everyone] will get used to the schedule really, really fast,” Hurst said in a press conference with the Green & Gold on May 24.

With all the changes students will undergo, Hurst said that he now has a special obligation.

“I have a responsibility to get really, really good teachers,” said Hurst.

He said the pressure of finding excellent teachers is what keeps him up at night.

Meanwhile, some students said they now want to transfer schools due to the drastic changes next year.

“There are too many changes, and I don’t want to go somewhere where [student] opinion is not taken into consideration,” said Media junior Katelyn Bauzon.

Addressing Bauzon’s concerns, Hurst stood firm with the plans for the new school.

“Everyone needs to make decisions that are best for them,” said Hurst “I respect anyone’s decision to not choose this school and its design.”