After nearly two years of research, receiving feedback and visiting other high schools for inspiration and receiving approval by teachers via a Benicia Teachers Association agreement Friday, Benicia High School finally has a new bell schedule set for the 2017-18 school year.
For three of the five days, students will experience little change. They will attend six periods of 57-minute classes from 8 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, with an optional “early bird” class beginning at 7 a.m. However, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, students will have a block schedule consisting of three 86-minute classes each day, a 15-minute brunch period, a 36-minute lunch period and a one-hour Access period, where students can work on homework or projects, meet with teachers, make up tests and attend workshops or guest speakers provided by the Counseling Office and College & Career Center. There will also be a 10-minute Homeroom period, where students will go to the same classroom where they have Access for attendance, school announcements, showings of the weekly Panther TV web series and other school-related business that is intended not to interfere with class time. Odd-numbered periods would meet on Wednesdays, and even-numbered periods would meet on Thursdays with early bird classes scheduled for both days. A typical Wednesday block day would look like this:
* Early Bird (if taken)– 7 to 7:55 a.m.
* 1st Period– 8 to 9:26 a.m.
* Homeroom– 9:34 to 9:44 a.m.
* Access– 9:44 to 10:44 a.m.
* Brunch– 10:44 to 10:59 a.m.
* 3rd period– 10:59 a.m. to 12:25 p.m.
* Lunch– 12:25 to 1:01 p.m.
* 5th period– 1:09 p.m. to 2:35 p.m.
Additionally, Common Planning Time (CPT) Fridays will see a change in scheduling. Currently on CPT days, students have 40-minute classes and get out at 1:20 p.m. while teachers remain at work for collaboration and discussion until 3:05 p.m. Under the new bell schedule, teachers will still leave at 3:05 p.m. but classes will be 46 minutes and students will get out at 1:59 p.m. There will be 10 CPT weeks scheduled throughout the year, but Principal Brianna Kleinschmidt said those weeks will be scheduled at the May 12 calendar meeting. Mondays through Thursdays will remain static for the rest of the year, except one three-day week.
“We will be sure to communicate and send reminders to parents and students ahead of those weeks,” she said.
Kleinschmidt believes the longer block days will allow for more extensive learning and hands-on projects as well as reductions in homework on Wednesdays and Thursdays. She also feels that the Access period, which was recommended through the Schedule Advisory Committee, will be a good addition.
“This year, two groups of staff visited local high schools that include Access in their bell schedules and have found positive results based on student and staff feedback,” she said. “One of the schools visited was San Ramon Valley High School, who implemented a new schedule this school year. Our schedule is similar to their model in several ways and we have been able to learn from their experience and transition. During Access, students are expected to be in the classroom with their assigned teacher unless they have a pre-arranged pass to another teacher’s class or another event planned for that time. We want this time to promote student planning and time management, as well provide time within the school day for academic interventions and social-emotional wellness.”
The new schedule is a pilot that will run for three years as part of a Benicia Teachers Association agreement, and Kleinschmidt said the school will continue to monitor feedback and make the necessary changes at the end of the three years,
“There were other recommended changes made by the Schedule Advisory Committee that are not a part of this schedule change that we hope to continue to discuss and work towards including in the schedule as we continue to evaluate our progress,” she said.
For more information, including full schedules, visit bhs.beniciaunified.org.