WINCHESTER — Handley High School Principal Mike Dufrene is forming a team to explore alternative class scheduling options for the 2021-22 school year.
The aim is to determine if Handley has the optimal master schedule. It doesn't necessarily mean any changes will be changed, Dufrene told the Winchester School Boad during a Monday night work session.
"The bottom line is, no matter what kind of master schedule you have, you have pros and cons," Dufrene said.
The current schedule has four blocks, with students taking the same four classes each day for a semester. Each block lasts about 82 minutes, with a 30-minute break for lunch. There's also a 30-minute Pride Time, which is similar to homeroom.
The team will consider:
A traditional schedule, which would have 50-minute periods with six to eight periods per day.
An alternating block period schedule, with 90-minute blocks four periods per day that would include eight blocks over two days. This schedule would be implemented year-long as opposed to a semester.
A modified block schedule, which is a combination of block and traditional periods.
A hybrid schedule combining aspects of different types of block schedules, where some courses follow the alternating block schedule and others follow the current four-block schedule. Some courses under this model may be yearlong.
If Handley's master schedule is changed, it would be done for the 2021-22 school year, when the school division's new Career and Technical Education center — the Grace & Emil Shihadeh Innovation Center — is slated to open in the former John Kerr Elementary School on Jefferson Street.
The exploration team will have 12 to 15 members. It will include Dufrene, an assistant principal, Handley Director of Counseling Amber Mungavin, Equity Specialist Carl Rush, Director of Secondary Instruction Brian Wray, teachers, parents/guardians, and students.
Though Dufrene will be involved throughout the entire process, he will not facilitate the team.
"It's not what Mike Dufrene wants," he said. "It's what's best for John Handley High School staff and students."
Ultimately, though, Dufrene will make the final decision on the master schedule based on team input and with the approval of Wray and Winchester Public Schools Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum.
Dufrene expects to make a final decision on the schedule in May or June.
To keep an open line of communication between the team and the school community, there will be staff updates throughout the process, an electronic suggestion box, family updates through the principal's weekly reflection email, grade level Pride Time updates, surveys, and updates at school-wide events.
Before 2005, Handley followed a traditional seven-period school day.
School Board member Erica Truban suggested Dufrene consider appointing parents to the team who don't have any "skin in the game."
"They're not coming at it from a 'me perspective'," Truban said.
Attending the meeting were board chairwoman Allyson Pate and board members Richard Bell, Michael Birchenough, Karen Holman, Marie Imoh, Bryan Pearce-Gonzales, Erica Truban and Elyus Wallace. Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum was also present.