The faculty voted 119-89 in favor of the 4×5 schedule and calendar option, with six members choosing to abstain. The results were released Thursday in an email from Head of School John Palfrey to the faculty, staff and administrators.
The 4×5 model will be instituted in Fall 2017, and will be subjected to further alterations by the new implementation committee, which will consist of six faculty members.
“The faculty has chosen between two very sound alternatives: a schedule and calendar that has been serving us well and the new 4×5 design. It is now our job, as a community, to focus on how to implement this new design well,” wrote Palfrey in an email to The Phillipian.
The Schedule and Calendar Implementation Working Group, created as a part of the 2014 Strategic Plan, was tasked with creating a schedule and calendar that sustained the intellectual lives of students in a way that simultaneously supported their physical and emotional health. Four models were presented to the faculty for a vote in December.
“I expect that work will be both challenging and exciting. From my perspective, the primary benefits of the new design will come as a result of an ongoing deep examination of teaching and learning and how we can continue to improve both at Andover,” said Palfrey.
Student input was solicited throughout the process, during the initial drafting of the Strategic Plan, in a School Congress, during focus group discussions and most recently in open houses in Paresky Commons.
Up until the last day of voting for the two schedule and calendar options and the release of the final decision, the faculty remained largely divided between the current schedule and the 4×5 model. The final round of voting was open from Monday to Wednesday.
“[This voting process] probably [was] the most divisive [thing] that I [have] seen since I have been here, which is bizarre. People who don’t like the 4×5 really don’t like the 4×5; the people who don’t like the current, really don’t like the current,” said Shawn Fulford, Instructor in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.
Will Orben, Instructor in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, believes that the 4×5 schedule will offer students more free time.
“I like the change in the use of our daily schedule with the 4×5, as opposed to the current schedule, where we’d have not a lot of time in the day to do other things. I like the possibility that we can use time during the day a little differently than we do right now… I think overall, I’m excited to try something different,” said Orben.
Leon Holley, Instructor and Chair in Biology, thinks that the 4×5 schedule’s class periods could be too long for younger students.
Holley said, “I’m concerned about the length of classes for our younger students, I’m not sure that the longer blocks and the way that the year is split up is in their best interest… I would rather stick with what we have, and see if we can tweak that.”
Though opinions varied among faculty members, many feel that they were being pushed towards the 4×5 schedule.
Both Holley and Nicholas Kip ’60, Instructor in Classics, believe that some in the administration were biased toward a change in schedule, rather than an adjustment to the current model.
“I don’t know exactly who the people are, but I think there are some people within the administration who want this to happen, even though they don’t teach… [They want] something new,” continued Kip, referencing a time when a proposed schedule was deemed not discussable.
Holley added, “In my opinion, there’s always been a bias toward a new schedule… This would be unpopular to say, and it’s also my opinion only – I think that they were tasked with creating a new schedule, and not to modify the current one.”
Despite the conflict that occurred before the 4×5 was voted on, Fulford is confident that the decision will best benefit the Andover community.
“I think the big picture is that there is a lot that the faculty do agree on. We do agree that students are too stressed, we absolutely see that. We see that students are tired… We want students to have a chance to see students, to have fun, to eat and to sleep and all those kind of things… Where we disagree is how to arrange those pieces,” said Fulford.