Little leads discussion about possible block scheduling switch


by Nina Rennard

HC is considering a possible switch to block schedule from a traditional six hour schedule for the 2021-2022 school year. HC Principal Paul Little has just begun the process of introducing it to staff, receiving feedback and answering questions and concerns. On Nov. 21 Little held the first staff meeting addressing the schedule change. At the meeting, teachers brought up their questions and concerns about the block schedule and how it would affect their students and learning.

“On our schedule right now, we see our kids 175 hours,” HC Math teacher Linda Dewees said. “If we go to block, we’ll see them 130.5 hours. That is a 40 hour difference; that is a nine week difference.”

The meeting featured a question and response style where teachers were able to voice their questions and concerns about the schedule change while Little replied to each question.

“How does Lafayette and Dunbar have such good scores?” Little said. “They are competitive every year. There are districts all around the United States who are sending kids to Harvard and Yale who are on a block schedule.”

Other teachers voiced their concerns about raising class sizes and OSHA regulations. OSHA guidelines limits the amount of students in a classroom when there is a handling of chemicals and fire due to the size of the classroom.

“If [HC] goes to the block plan, and goes to 33 to 36 in a room, I am now exceeding OSHA guidelines,” HC Chemistry teacher Denise Minor said. “According to the Kentucky Board of Education School Facilities Planning Manual, it says I need 50 square feet per child if I am going to use fire and chemicals. How are we going to address that?”

Throughout the meeting, Little emphasized his hope to receive answers from other high schools that are on a block schedule to see how they meet all requirements and better their students.

“Our classrooms aren’t any smaller than Dunbar’s or Lafayette’s,” Little said. “I would have to check with them to see how they address the issue. We will refer to those schools and see how they manage it. I think that that will be our best source.”

One of the many concerns teachers brought to attention was the training required for teachers to adjust their teaching style from teaching 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

“There are people who have taught their entire careers here at HC on this traditional schedule that have years and years of strategies and successful lessons. What is the plan for training the faculty to adjust to the new schedule and learn how to adjust themselves to a completely new way of teaching?” HC English teacher Kevin Lentz asked.

Little was assured and confident of the flexibility of HC’s teachers.

“Professional development, professional development, professional development,” Little said. “That is part of the reason why I am not proposing for this next year but the year after that.”

While many teachers voiced their concerns about block scheduling, a few who were in favor of the new schedule change spoke as well.

“As an elective department chair, I wanted to speak out not so much as in favor of block scheduling but in favor of our students having opportunities to take electives that we have,” HC Art teacher Eric Bolander said. “The loss of instruction hours [with block scheduling] would be the same amount of hours [lost] in a different study per student per year.”

Little will continue to communicate with staff, students, and families about the switch and give all opportunities to voice their opinion. However, Little hopes to vote on the decision by the SBDM in early spring of this school year.