Faculty and Administrators Narrow Down Schedule Options From Four to Two

After a-year-and-a-half-long process, faculty members and other administrators have narrowed the four potential scheduling and calendar options for the 2017-2018 school year down to two final options. The remaining two proposals are the current schedule, which may be subject to revision, and a four-term schedule with five periods, called the four-by-five schedule.

Now that the options have been reduced, faculty and administration will spend the coming weeks holding discussions addressing issues and details of both choices. From now until the end of January, which is when the final vote will take place, faculty will be able to come forward with any revisions or ideas that can tweak the two schedules.

“We wanted to reflect the school core values… for there to be time available for extra help and unstructured time for students. We also wanted to increase opportunities for collaboration [between] faculty and students,” said Rachel Skiffer, Dean of Policy and Strategic Planning.

Monday faculty meetings have been providing an opportunity for the faculty to discuss how each of the scheduling options would affect students’ and faculty members’ lives on campus.

“I think people are being very thoughtful about the impact on life at school, academic and otherwise. Concerns that people have with either schedule is about good faith, what’s best for the academy and what’s best for the school. Although there is debate, I think it’s constructive debate,” said Skiffer.

Faculty members who voted for the rejected schedules and still wish to vote must choose between the two remaining ones.

“I’m still thinking about the decision. There are things I like about the four-by-five. I think longer periods have a lot of potential, but I have a lot of concerns as well… There are tweaks within our current schedule that might make sense, that wouldn’t require totally overhauling the schedule, but could address some of the main issues that people are having,” said Willa Abel, Instructor in Biology.

“I’m in favor of [four-by-five] schedule that will allow for more meaningful class time. The current schedule, as far as I’m concerned, does not allow for that. And I think it is in the best interest of the Academy and in the best interest of students to have a schedule that will improve the quality of life on campus,” said Damany Fisher, Instructor in History and Social Sciences.

In addition, different departments generally have been seen to favor different schedule choices.

For the Music Department, the four-by-five scheduling option poses a problem because of the lack of red-dot periods for Juniors. Much of the department’s activities, such as music lessons, chamber music and orchestra, happen outside of the academic day.

“The four-by-five is a little bit challenging because incoming ninth graders will be very difficult to schedule… It would seem like everyone has free times at the same time, and we do not have enough practice rooms to accommodate everybody,” said Holly Barnes, Director of Performance in the Music Department.
The Art Department also expressed both pros and cons for the two options.

“The longer time periods are very good for the Art Department… On the other hand, because our department is mostly term-contained courses, four start-ups during the year would be exhausting, especially with very little break in between,” said Elaine Crivelli, Instructor in Art.

“A lot of the faculty feel like they are ready for some kind of thoughtful change in the way we teach and organize our time, and are hoping that we make a change [by] either tweaking the current schedule or the four-by-five,” said Barnes.

The Schedule/Calendar Implementation Working Group will be holding informational meetings in the Mural Room next week. At the event, students will be given the opportunity to learn more about and provide feedback on the two schedule options.

Students have already been expressing varying opinions about the remaining two schedule options, prior to the meeting.

“Personally, I don’t like the 75-minute periods, because I find it a bit hard for students to stay focused for that long of a period. I feel like it would be a good idea if teachers could add a five minute break, or like a break in between,” said Andy Salitre ’18.

While Claire Jungmann ’18 also said that longer classes can be difficult, she said that having less homework and more time for extracurriculars and sports would be beneficial.

The times for the information session next week include Monday from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday during class periods four through six, Thursday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and Friday during class periods four through six.