Faculty to vote on schedules for 2020

Saba Nia

Following the second pair of late-start block schedule days March 11-12, members of the Scheduling Committee have prepared two proposals for altering the current schedule, Head of Upper School Laura Ross said. Academic departments are currently reviewing the proposed changes to the schedule, and the Faculty Academic Committee will vote on the two final proposals April 16. Ross said both proposals will include more community time, at least one late start day per cycle and longer blocks of time for classes.

During the second pair of trial days, students met for 60-minute classes with 15-minute breaks and no ‘X’ periods. Periods four, three, two and one met the first day, and periods eight, seven, six and five met the second, in that order.

In a Chronicle poll of 281 students, 45 percent said they liked the 15-minute breaks during the second trial block schedule days.
In response to feedback from the first pair of late start block schedule days, the Scheduling Committee also extended the common lunch period from 25 minutes to 45 minutes.

Students said that while they support the administration’s desire to alter the current schedule, the late start block schedule days were an adjustment.

“The [block days are] better than what we currently have, that’s for certain,” Will Evans ’19 said. “However there is much room for improvement. Classes were too long, and school ended too late.”
The Scheduling Committee has compiled research gathered from trips to other schools and from a study conducted by Challenge Success, a company associated with Stanford University, based on a survey students took last year. English teacher and Scheduling Committee member Jenna Gasparino said that almost all of the research supports a learning environment with more breaks and longer and less frequent periods.

“I feel like [the pursuit of joyful excellence] is the one part of our mission statement that I don’t experience on a regular basis through observing my students, and I really feel like this schedule will make student lives at Harvard-Westlake a lot happier,” Gasparino said.

The Committee is currently composed of a teacher from each department, three student representatives, a faculty member from the Middle School and a parent. Student representative Lucy Kim ’19 said that since the final proposal has not been decided yet, the community should feel free to reach out to the Schedule Committee with any comments or concerns.

“I’ve heard negative feedback from students about an ‘undemocratic’ process,” Kim said. “I hope we can come to understand that it really is impossible to satisfy every individual when it comes to any change, and I encourage students to come talk to representatives. [We] are trying to come up with ways to allow for every student’s voice to be heard.”

The future schedule will go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year.

“We want to be successful of the academic tradition of excellence and give people the time and space to redesign their courses and learn to have professional development, because at Harvard-Westlake, if we’re going to do anything, we want to do it right,” Ross said.