The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

Eight a day

Bellaire adopts new eight-period schedule for the 2024-25 school year
Claire Bradford
The majority of Bellaire faculty and the Shared Decision-Making Committee voted for an eight-period schedule for the 2024-25 school year. In addition to eight periods a day, the new schedule also includes the dismissal time moving to 4 p.m., the discontinuation of zero periods and more elective options for students.

Principal Michael Niggli announced the new schedule for the 2024-25 school year in an email sent to students and parents on Feb. 18. The schedule, which was voted on by Bellaire faculty and the Shared Decision-Making Committee (SDMC), includes eight-period days, the school day ending at 4 p.m. and a discontinuation of zero periods, which are classes that take place before the regular school day.

According to Niggli’s statement, the change came in response to the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) new standards disclosed to principals relating to Career and Technology (CTE) programs. Students are now expected to “complete four years of their CTE pathway and pass the industry-based certification exam for that pathway.” To make this possible at Bellaire while giving teachers planning periods, an additional class period was needed.

In addition to meeting TEA requirements, the new schedule also enables Bellaire to remain autonomous, open four new career pathways and offer more electives to students, even allowing more students to graduate after only three years of high school. Cardinal Hour and seniors’ off-campus lunch and off period options will still be available for next school year.

Faculty and the SDMC voted between a block schedule and the eight-period schedule, with the eight-period schedule winning the majority of votes. Business teacher Ian Zlotnik, who voted for the latter, expects that CTE teachers will once again have the typical two off periods that was reduced to one planning period this school year in order for students to meet their CTE requirements. He said he primarily voted for the eight-period schedule because he feels that longer class periods will exacerbate the frustration towards school that builds up in students throughout the day.

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“I didn’t vote for the block because I didn’t think it was really beneficial for you guys,” Zlotnik said. “Whether it’s diagnosed or not, the trends towards ADD and ADHD among students get higher and higher each year. And I also recognize that you guys being without your phones is brutal for you anyway. And doing that for an hour and a half versus 50 minutes is probably not beneficial for most anyone.”

For aquatic science lead teacher Jane Baker, the new schedule will force her to alter and shorten her assignments. Ten to 15 minutes are often needed to set up and tear down experiments, so without this alteration, her labs will not fit into the shortened class periods.

85.2% of voters in an Instagram poll dislike the new schedule for the 2024-25 school year. The schedule will have students visiting eight classes every day. (Claire Bradford)

“It will impact student learning,” Baker said. “I mean, it just will. You don’t have as much time to spend one-on-one with the kids, to delve into further higher-level thinking of the particular interests of the students in a project. This also is a gifted skill, which I believe students in all ability levels can benefit from. That’s unfortunate.”

Baker also expects the new schedule to increase the workload teachers have to take home.

“Work-life balance is important,” Baker said. “It’s hugely important. You need some downtime, you need relaxation, you need time with your friends and family to come back rejuvenated. If teachers have some time where they can actually lesson plan and work with their team and have longer class periods, then everyone benefits.”

Zlotnik’s main concern is whether the schedule will do more harm than good, especially with the lack of student input in its selection and a need for teachers to actually teach the new electives that are to be offered.

“CTE has this unique opportunity to get you guys prepared for life beyond high school,” Zlotnik said. “But if it’s not handled properly, then it’s kind of all for nothing. I’d love to be hopeful, but the truth remains to be seen as to what actually happens.”

And with her 30 years of teaching experience, Baker intends to stay flexible and educate her students the best she can. Even when she left education to be an Education Specialist at the Space Center, she came back to Bellaire because she missed teaching.

“I’ll adjust to whatever is given to me and do the best I can for the benefit of the students,” Baker said. “Teaching is my calling in life. So I’m going to make it work. It’ll be more challenging, but we’ll figure it out. That’s what teachers do, right?”

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  • R

    Roy CMar 30, 2024 at 9:21 pm

    it is such a mistake voting for 8 periods rather than a block schedule. you are only making the problem worse having kids not being able to form meaningful connections within the classroom when people are too focused on all EIGHT classes they now have in the day and will be constantly on edge to keep up with all of their classes. all students should be able to deal with 90 minutes without their phone in order to have some ideas brewing through boredom rather than exacerbating the learning problems we now have with phones. block scheduling will also help lessen the workload for all of the classes by having a break and make lessons more impactful where teachers will have the time to explore how they can teach their students.

    • W

      When i catch you Mike MilesApr 3, 2024 at 4:38 pm

      You took the words out of my mouth! We now have to focus on 8 classes worth of homework a day, as if 7 was not bad enough. If the block schedule was chosen, students would have more time to actually finish work during school rather than outside. People’s problems with concentration due to their phones should not even considered, it just accomodates to their lack of work ethic.

  • J

    Joy XMar 21, 2024 at 7:47 pm

    great reporting, i love how much information is included!