High school schedule overhaul underway

POULSBO — There are undoubtedly countless disagreements among teachers, parents, staff, administrators and students about what each feels would be an ideal schedule for North Kitsap High School.

But there one thing the NKHS Instructional Schedule Task Force universally agrees upon.

“Kids,” as the mantra of the task force goes, “are the focus of the work.”

The high school’s current schedule has been deemed too rigid by several of North Kitsap’s school board members, many of whom are also unhappy with having to pass numerous waivers for students’ credit requirements as a result of the inflexibility.

Out of that concern was born the Instructional Schedule Task Force, made up of stakeholders including teachers, parents, students and administrators, which has been meeting for the entire fall semester to come up with a new schedule.

Doing so has been no easy task, members of the organization reported at the school board meeting Dec. 9.

“If we change the high school by even five minutes how does that affect the kindergartners?” asked Linda Berry-Maraist, a parent volunteer on the task force. “We really had to think about every detail.”

One of the key issues, the task force said, was creating a schedule that allows for both longer “block” periods that are about an hour and a half in length and short or “skinny” periods that run just under an hour. Surveys from teachers indicated that skinny classes best suit lower-grade English, world language, math and PE courses, while electives, science, history and higher-level courses require long block periods.

NKHS teacher and task force member Michael Haines said the task force’s work is “not a Band-Aid fix” and is meant to be permanent.

“It came back from the (NKHS) teachers that there is a preference for block and short classes,” he said. “We’re trying to do this so it meets the need of the instruction (and) learning styles of all students. And we want something the school district can keep and use for a long time.”

The high school’s current day is made up of four, 85-minute block periods that are a semester in length.

After studying other school districts’ schedules and conducting a survey of NKHS teachers, parents and students, the task force has offered two potential options for the school board to consider:

1) A seven-period day — Seven, 50-minute “skinny” classes run throughout the day and are paralleled by block periods that are twice as long as the shorter classes. Two 30-minute lunches are sunk into the schedule and the school day is increased in length from its present schedule by nine minutes.

2) A six-period “Port Townsend” day — Based on the Port Townsend High School schedule, there are six periods of hour-long classes students attend on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. On Tuesday, three of the periods are doubled in length and Thursday, the other three are doubled to make block classes. The schedule also includes a homeroom advisory period of 30 minutes.

How much instructional planning time North Kitsap’s teachers will get is still being worked out in both the schedules, as is what kind of a mix of block classes and skinnies each teacher would receive in the seven-period model.

The two possible schedules were revealed to NKHS students and teachers Dec. 13 and 14. Public meetings will be held in January to further iron the kinks out of the two schedules and to get a better idea of which would serve the school better. The school board has said it would like to adopt one of the two for use in the next school year.

North Kitsap High School Principal Roy Herrera informed the board at its Dec. 9 meeting that he would like to deliver the chosen schedule to the registrar to develop sometime in February.

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