Less than a month before a new law giving high schools more flexibility with their scheduling goes into effect, school administrators say they still have lingering questions.
Under the new law, high schools that receive an A rating from the Department of Education will not have to have to stick to the typical school calendar that consists of 180 days—each day lasting six hours.
Qualifying schools can spend their days in or out of the classroom as long as they meet the total required minutes of teaching time.
State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers) co-sponsored the bill and says it allows schools adapt their curricula to better fit the needs of their students.
“I hope that when they begin looking at the scheduling process for 2014-15 that they really have the opportunity to think differently about how they’re doing their high schools,” Huston says.
Brown County High School received an A last year and therefore qualifies for the flexible schedule.
But Superintendent David Shaffer says he does not know much about the law. For example, he says he does not know how school schedules will be managed. Still, he says the one thing he does know is that reducing class time should not be an award for academic achievement.
“I think that we are always better off to have more time with boys and girls,” Shaffer says. “I think we accomplish more with boys and girls in terms of completing curriculum and covering the amount of material we want to cover, the more time that we have.”
Schools that do not reach that level will be able to apply for a waiver to take advantage of the opportunity later in the school year.
Eminence Community Schools falls below the A rating.
“It’s difficult for us to reach the levels that some of the folks want us to,” Eminence Community Schools Superintendent Murray Pride says. “But it doesn’t mean that we’re not giving it everything we got and we’re doing everything we can.” Schools like Eminence may not have the resources to reap benefits from the bill, even if they do apply for the waiver.
Other school administrators have expressed concerns that teachers might be paid less if they are spending less time in the classroom.
Most schools have already set their academic calendars for the coming school year based on the traditional model, so schools are more likely to change their schedules the following year.
The law goes into effect July 1.