Building Blocks

WBHS will likely adopt a block schedule

By Alex Kopish, Current Staff

If a new proposal passes, students will only have four classes per day.

The West Bend High Schools administrators have been discussing the option of converting to a block schedule.  If all are in favor, the change can happen two years from now.  According to Principal Jim Curler, there is a “fifty-fifty chance” that at the start of the 2016-2017 school year students and teachers will be following a different kind of schedule.

So how does this change affect students?

Basically, the block schedule holds four classes per day, plus lunch.  Currently, students attend seven classes which are 48 minutes long.  With the new schedule, students will attend four classes one day and their other four classes the next day.  All classes will be 90 minutes long.

This proposal will bring many opportunities to students, including students not yet in high school.

“I have been looking to give students a schedule that would allow them more options,” said Curler.  This is important, he said, since on Jan. 1 a new state law stated that this year’s freshmen and following classes will need three credits of math and science rather than the traditional two.

Having eight available periods will open student’s schedules to more opportunities, like an extra elective.  Middle school students will have more opportunities to take classes in high school as well.  Starting next year, high school course options will open to seventh and eighth graders.  These options will give students more time to get needed credits.

“We’ve been looking into a new schedule since 1998, can you believe that?”
– Jim Curler, principal

In addition, teachers will see a change in their daily routines. Teachers will have to adjust to the longer classes and seeing a class only two or three times per week.  All teachers will teach six classes in the block schedule, which is an increase for some teachers.

“Each teacher will like it differently.  Some science teachers will like it and some won’t.  Some English teachers will like it and some won’t,” said Curler.

More teachers will not be needed in the first years that the block schedule is in effect.  If more classes are developed, then more teachers will be hired.

Unlike the current schedule, teachers will not be required to cover a study hall or student off hour.  Instead, study halls and off hours will be supervised by teacher aides.  Therefore, more aides will be hired when the new schedule is put into effect.

All teachers will also need new training for learning how to be effective with the new schedule.  With a schedule that has longer class periods, teachers will prep two days worth of lesson plans into one day.  This gives the teacher more time to teach their lesson and more time to work with students.

Teachers can focus with individual students with longer classes because teachers will have more time to work with the same number of students.  With the block schedule it is expected that class sizes will stay the same, which averages between 27 and 30 students.

“We’ve been looking into a new schedule since 1998, can you believe that?,” said Curler.  There are many options to adjust the schedule and to make the eight-hour day effective for students.  These options have been intermittently discussed by the building leadership team over the course of 16 years.

Other schools in the area that have been using the block schedule include Pewaukee, Madison, and Arrowhead.  According to Curler, these are productive “high-flyer” high schools, and there is research to support the switch to block scheduling.

Curler proposed the block schedule plan three years ago.  This proposal has been discussed with the rest of the high school administrative team and the building leadership group.  Once the plan is approved by the groups, it moves on to be approved by the district leadership group and finally the school board.

3 Comments

Filed under School News and Features

3 responses to “Building Blocks

  1. Mr. Lew

    I can speak specifically to Arrowhead because my daughter currently attends the school. They have 10- 45 minute periods, but they “block” 2 periods together for Freshman Science and Phy Ed. Those classes meet every other day. 90 minutes for Phy ed allows her to go bowling and play at least three games per class. Other tech classes and most AP classes are also blocked this way. Foreign language, band and choir meet 1 period everyday. We need a schedule that has flexibility for courses not conducive to a block schedule.

  2. Ms. S

    Kewaskum tried lock scheduling and recently went back to traditional scheduling. Have we looked at area districts?

  3. Mrs. Egan

    Well written article, Alex. There is certainly a lot to think about when changing schedules. Of course, there is always the Mod System that was in place when I was a student at East!

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