By Gabe Licht
A lot has changed at Delano High School since the current schedule was established in the mid-‘90s. In fact, a lot has changed in just the last eight years. Those changes are prompting a schedule change that will begin with the 2020-21 school year.
Some of the changes over the past eight years include the addition of five new classes for grades seven and eight, three new Advanced Placement classes, one new College in the Schools class, and 13 new elective classes for high school students.
Instead of a delineation between the middle school and high school, the building now has a singular focus on grades seven through 12.
That includes sharing staff between the grades, which is currently difficult to do with two different schedules.
“Right now, you have seventh and eighth grade on a six-period day. Most of ninth through 12th grade is on a four-by-four block,” Principal Steve Heil said. “ . . . Some employees are on one schedule. Some employees are on another schedule. Some employees are on both schedules.”
To remedy that, the school will be shifting to a modified schedule based off of seven periods.
One option is to have seven periods every day, plus “Tiger Hour” Tuesdays and Thursdays. That would make class times 52 minutes each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and 47 minutes each Tuesdays and Thursdays, with 31-minute Tiger Hours.
A second option would have seven-period days Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and four-period days Tuesdays and Thursdays, with one of those periods being Tiger Hour. That schedule would require a memorandum of agreement with the Delano Teachers Association to slide prep time on Tuesdays and Thursdays together to create one 90-minute prep time.
“Part of the reason why there are two options is staff and I are working through it,” Heil said. “It takes months and months to get to this point.”
In either scenario, students would have shorter class times.
“When you’re just learning, smaller increments seem to be better, especially with younger adolescents,” Heil said. “Longer periods don’t necessarily work.”
Students will also have more access to teachers outside of class.
“Kids are so busy with activities. They need time to get to teachers,” Heil said, adding that the traditional times of before and/or after school don’t work for many students.
Another goal for the change is to lessen the transition between grades eight and nine.
“We’re trying to make it more seamless,” Heil said.
Heil noted that periods could still be blocked together to create longer classes, especially for more advanced offerings.
He believes the school will be able to increase course offerings with the new schedule.
Most departments will remain the same for course requirements, with the following exceptions:
• The physical education department is looking to add options in upper grades.
• The business department is looking at adding Accounting 1, 2, and 3.
• Computer science courses for lower grades may be added to Project Lead the Way curriculum.
• Some general language arts and mathematics help courses for lower grades may be added.
New graduation requirements will be needed to accommodate the new schedule.
With 14 periods per year, the maximum amount of credits becomes 56, compared to the current available total of 64. Currently, 58 credits are required for graduation. That number will decrease to 56 in 2021, 54 in 2022, 52 in 2023, and 50 in 2024 and beyond.
The Delano School Board will have to approve the change in graduation requirements.