Schools consider schedule adjustment

Published 9:19 pm Monday, February 18, 2019

Suffolk Public Schools is proposing a shift in the high school schedule to make first block a 50-minute daily class and putting a 100-minute sixth and seventh block after lunch.

High schools in Suffolk operate on a block schedule, in which students go to four classes per day. Currently, on odd days, they attend first, third and fifth block classes. On even days, they attend second, fourth and sixth block classes, with each of those classes lasting 100 minutes. They have a daily, 50-minute seventh block.

Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney explained to the School Board on Thursday evening that the change was only a change to the schedule, not a change in start times.

Students, as they do now, would still go to four classes per day and take seven classes overall.

“What this will do is create a common room that all students report to everyday,” said Dr. Stenette Byrd III, director of secondary leadership, “almost like having that home-base feel at the high school.”

Byrd said having a daily 50-minute block at the beginning of the day would make it easier to get information to students. He said the first block class would be a student’s homeroom assignment, rather than assigning a student to a separate homeroom.

“It is somewhat of a challenge to locate the students because, for example, report cards, if they’re going to be distributed on an odd day, we have to run the schedules for that particular day to get them to students,” Byrd said. “The other piece is that some students are not in school for a seventh block. Our seniors have early dismissals.”

There is also a planned change to the schedule at the College and Career Academy at Pruden, which draws juniors and seniors from Lakeland, Nansemond River and King’s Fork high schools.

Currently the school has two sections of students who come to the academy — one in the morning and another after lunch, attending a 2.5-hour class on alternating days.

The new schedule would have students come to the academy on alternating days, and, on the days they’re there, they’ll stay for the entire day rather than go back to their home school.

“This particular scenario, you’re coming one time, you’re leaving the students, and then you’re coming at dismissal, which is normally at that same wave in which you’re taking students back, so there’s not a midday back-and-forth transportation route,” said Andre Skinner, coordinator of career and technical education.

Skinner said the new schedule at Pruden would allow increased opportunities for special presenters, work-based learning, clinical hours, internships, apprenticeships and field trips.

He also said that while there would be minimal costs incurred as a result of serving lunch at Pruden, there could be potential transportation savings with the new schedule by not having a midday run.