If Flagstaff Unified School District altered the hours of the school day or how those days are spread out in a year, it might look like this:
-- Extended days: Offer secondary courses from early in the morning until late at night -- say, 6:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. -- for flexibility in attendance, something like an expanded take on college scheduling.
-- Hybrid blocks: a regular school day three days a week and block scheduling the other two days.
-- Modified year-round calendar: Like the calendar that has long been in place at Killip Elementary and newly implemented at Leupp Public School, but beyond to secondary schools.
The district is speaking informally right now about changing up the logistics of its content delivery. Currently, much of the district is traditional in days and years: The middle and high schools have six-period days and classes are a year long (unlike the condensed block schedules, which give students new daily class lineups every semester). With the exception of Killip and Leupp, schools start in late August and end in early June, with a summer vacation nearly three months long.
Superintendent Barbara Hickman said the district would use four "filters" when considering whether to change schedules: Would it solve an existing problem? Would it create a new and needed opportunity? Would it impact student achievement? And would it maintain cost ratios?
Extended-day schedules would spread course offerings throughout the day. Teachers would work in shifts. This could allow a motivated student to graduate high school in fewer than four years -- one way to satisfy the "move on when ready" idea that is taking hold with educators -- but Hickman said that isn't best for the district's enrollment and related funding. Because students could be enrolled for one fewer year, that would impact headcount, and thus state funding, and thus teacher staffing.
The hybrid block model, a partial return to the block scheduling that the district had in its high schools until recently, could expand course offerings. When FUSD put its high schools on the less-expensive six-period day (block scheduling has four-period days with longer periods, and a new lineup every semester), teachers could see more students, but overall course options shrunk.
And the year-round option would give students breaks that are more frequent, but shorter.
Assistant superintendent Dave Dirksen said that according to the National Association for Year-Round Education, even the strongest students can have some sort of "loss" over the summer break.
But the "balanced" calendar, as modified year-round is also called, can work in secondary schools because so many schools already do it. About 175 high schools and 315 middle schools nationwide use the calendar, and the association's studies have found that there is relatively little impact on students' ability to hold jobs or participate in sports and other extra-curriculars.
Hickman said brief discussions with both high school administrations have found support and interest for change.
"We're not necessarily advocating for this," she said. "We're trying to find other ways to meet needs of kids."
In the event of any scheduling change, middle and high schools would be on the same calendar for the sake of consistency and family convenience. However, Hickman said the district doesn't want overly complex daily scheduling for the middle schoolers.
CLINIC VAN UPDATE
A district committee has continued to study the proposal by North Country HealthCare to station a mobile clinic outside schools.
The school board has showed tentative interest in the 40-foot-long, 12-foot-high modified RV, which would be staffed by North Country. The school district had to be a willing partner at least in the discussion phase for North Country to apply for the grant, although FUSD is not fully committed to the project yet.
The committee has surveyed parents and developed a memorandum of understanding for FUSD's legal counsel to review. The committee is expected to come to the school board on Dec. 13 with a final recommendation.
Kinsey, Killip, Thomas and the alternative and social programming housed at the former Christensen school would be the first schools in line. The mobile clinic is funded by a $471,000 federal grant.
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 556-2261.