School tries to ease concerns about schedule changes | AspenTimes.com

School tries to ease concerns about schedule changes

Aspen High School assistant principal John Bangley talks with an Aspen High parent at the high school's master schedule meeting Wednesday evening.
Erica Robbie/The Aspen Times |

The mood at Aspen High School’s master schedule meeting Wednesday evening was a bit more mellow than the vibe felt at some of the school’s scheduling meetings in the past.

Approximately 100 people attended the informational meeting, which took place in the high school’s cafeteria.

The No. 1 change to Aspen High School’s proposed master schedule is that students’ daily schedules will change from the current eight-period day to a seven-period schedule. Parents and students have expressed concerns over the proposed schedule, arguing that there’s less time for elective classes, one-on-one teacher time and extracurricular activities.

The high school’s leadership team, made up of 16 teachers representing each department, claim to have spent more than 100 hours analyzing data and debating various scheduling options in creating the high school’s proposed schedule.

At the meeting, school officials and members of the leadership team delivered a 40-minute PowerPoint presentation that looked at some of the prominent issues with the current schedule and addressed some of the widespread concerns expressed by students and parents.

The team also explained why they think students will benefit from a seven-block schedule rather than the current eight-period model — much of which has to do with the increased meeting time between students and teachers.

Another key issue with Aspen High School’s current master schedule is that it does not meet the International Baccalaureate program’s recommended number of contact hours between teachers and students, which puts students who are enrolled in International Baccalaureate classes at a disadvantage, according to the leadership team.

To accommodate these students and also address the reoccurring concern that Aspen High School classes should meet more frequently, the proposed schedule increases students’ instructional time with their teachers from 435 minutes to 492 minutes every two weeks.

Students will be able to meet with their teachers four times each week — once in a 90-minute block and three times in a class that will last around 52 minutes.

At the end of the academic year, this additional instruction time between students and their teachers adds up to an equivalent value of four more weeks of school.

Aspen parent Elizabeth Slossberg, who also serves as a member of the Aspen Education Foundation, said she felt “absolutely more reassured” after the master schedule meeting Wednesday evening.

“It was more of an unknown before,” Slossberg said of the high school’s change to its schedule.

“I thought it was great and that there was a lot of good information,” Slossberg said. “It was nice to hear from the heads of the departments on their opinion.”

Slossberg has a senior and sophomore at Aspen High School, a fourth-grader at Aspen Elementary School, and an Aspen High School graduate.

While members of the leadership team recognized that the new schedule means some students will lose the opportunity to take a class, they argued that all of the students will gain both instructional time with their teachers as well as frequent meetings in their scheduled class periods.

Aspen school board President and parent Susan Marolt commended the leadership team for coming up with a schedule that she thinks meets the greatest number of students’ needs.

“I really do feel like they considered what was best for all of the kids,” Marolt said.

Marolt said she is excited at the prospect of allowing students more instructional time with their teachers.

erobbie@aspentimes.com


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