Aspen High School expects changes to master schedule |

Aspen High School expects changes to master schedule

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

Aspen School District curriculum director Brian Childress said Thursday that Aspen High School’s block schedule is not meeting its students’ needs.

“We haven’t been purposeful about designing the schedule,” Childress said. “This process is an effort to be purposeful about schedule designing.”

Roughly 20 parents and teachers partook in a master schedule focus group Thursday night in the high school’s boardroom, where they were asked to share their most important academic values for their children.

One of the main priorities for parents and teachers is a schedule that allows more flexibility. They also identified factors such as class size, electives, free periods and academic excellence.

Along these lines, Childress said the biggest issue with the school’s current schedule is that it creates too many conflicts, which consequently leads to disproportionately sized classes.

Aspen High School does not have an average class size because some classes have five students while others have more than 30, Childress said, which led to a conversation about what parents and school staff members think is an appropriate class size.

One parent said she’d seen research that said there is an optimal class-size range that is most beneficial to students’ learning, which she thinks is between 11 and 16 students.

Math teacher Amanda Martin said she prefers between 18 and 24 students in her class “because you get great discussions.”

“If we do it right, we should be able to balance the classes better, so we don’t have really large classes and small classes,” Childress said.

Childress said the school district is seeking further input from parents through January, and that it hopes to make a decision about the school’s future schedule that month.

The goal is to be able to offer students the opportunity to create their schedules for the 2016-17 academic year in spring 2016, which would be another change to the school’s scheduling system, Childress said.

In previous years, the school has sent this information out to students and their families in August, which “feels chaotic,” Childress said.

“It will be progress for students to know ahead of time and to be able to foresee and try to resolve those conflicts,” Childress said. “It feels like a step in the right direction.”

The discussion focused solely on the day-to-day student schedule and did not include any talk of calendar conflicts with the Jewish high holidays, a separate discussion between parents and the school board that heated up last month.