The Harbinger Online

Switching Sevens

Since the switch to block scheduling last year, seven-period days have routinely fallen on Mondays.  However, effective next year, administrators have adjusted schedules to make block work smoothly and efficiently for teachers, students, and other staff members. At a district meeting in December, principal Dr. Karl Krawitz and several other district principals decided to move East’s seven-period day from Monday to Friday for the upcoming school year due to budgetary concerns and to be consistent with other schools in the district.

Current budget cuts, as well as those predicted for the future, have pushed administrators to try to stretch the district’s budget as much as possible. The tighter budget has forced the district to hire teachers that work at several schools instead of just one.  Different schedules for different schools can pose problems for teachers.

With a similar, district-wide schedule for the SMSD high schools, this wouldn’t be an issue.  In order to carry this out, a standard schedule for all schools must be implemented.  Since East is the only school with a seven-period Monday, it is changing to Friday.

“As money tightens up, we’ll need to do some sharing,” associate principal Steve Loe said.  “We hope that this will let kids continue to have the range of teachers that they’ve had.”

East’s seven-period fridays allow this situation to exist.  Shawnee Mission North and West have had this in place since block scheduling began in SMSD.  The switch next year will make the schedule more standard across the high schools, according to Loe.

And while this poses yet another change and set of schedules for block, Loe is confident that it will work.  Monday served as a sort of “preview” for the week ahead. Now, teachers may give small quizzes, a review sheet to wrap up the week, or discuss what’s coming up in the next week.

“We’re just going from a preview on Monday to a review on Friday,” Loe said.

Not all teachers share Mr. Loe’s view that Fridays will be used effectively.

“Since Friday is at the end of the week, people are tempted to goof around,” said art teacher Wanda Simchuck.  “A shortened class period just gives people more excuse.”

Despite some teachers’ doubts, this system has been successful in the other Shawnee Mission high schools.  Shawnee Mission West principal Charles McLean has had no problems with seven-period fridays.  He says that West has never had problems with wasted time on Fridays.

Teachers at West usually use Fridays for a culminating activity, according to Mclean.  However, there is a rule that there is to be no major exams on Fridays so that students won’t end up with a multitude of tests on one day.  This means that Fridays are used to review information covered in the past week, and have a preview for upcoming events.

“For the organized student, I think it will be beneficial to know what’s happening in all their classes next week,” chemistry teacher Cole Ogdon said.  “I think my students realize that putting off homework isn’t the best option.”

There will be a change of rhythm of homework for some, though.  Students’ typical homework-crammed Sundays due to seven-period Mondays will be no more.  Instead, it is predicted that Thursdays will be a busy night for most students, on top of club meetings, sports practices, and other events that take place during the school week.

“It’s nice to have an entire day for all my classes’ homework on Sunday,” junior Alex Pirotte said. “Usually on Thursdays I’ll have work, so it’s nice not to have a ton of homework.”

Other students like Pirotte enjoy having a more laid-back end of the week, and some teachers agree.  Those teacher fear that Thursday nights will be filled with stacks of worksheets, unfinished essays and blank test reviews.

“Teachers with even hours tend to be sensitive to the following seven-period day,” McLean said. “We’ve never had a problem that I’ve heard of with homework.”

McLean is also confident that East will figure a working schedule out. Although Loe expects that there might be some bumps at first, there won’t be any big foreseeable problems.  Loe wants to maintain the scope of teachers and hours of education for students while dealing with less funding.

“We would never consider something as drastic as shortening the amount of days in a school year,” Loe said.  “We are preserving our standard of excellence while dealing with the horrible budget cuts.”

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