March 29, 2019
Changes are ahead for Point Pleasant Boro High School! Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, PPBHS’s current scheduling system will be dissolved in favor of a rotate-and-drop schedule. Planning began in 2015 when Principal Karcich established a committee that “…began considering alternate school schedules to address some specific challenges under the current schedule.”
What does this transition mean for the students?
Instead of eight 45-minute periods that take place at the same time every day, classes will rotate with six, 55-minute periods (excluding an hour period for Lunch & Learn). Currently, 77% of the student body begins the school day with period two, which begins at 8:00 am, while 23% of students begin their day at 7:10 am. With the new rotate-and-drop schedule, every student will arrive to school at the same time. By having a unified school day that begins at 7:50 am, those students who take period one would be able to get more sleep while taking the same amount of classes.
Courses will rotate over four days (A , B, C and D), and two classes will be dropped each day. Students’ last class of the morning before lunch and their last class of the school day will be dropped and rotated within the four day cycle. This will give students the ability to take more classes than the current schedule allows. So while there would only be six periods in the school day, students will have the option to take up to eight classes. This system also ensures that more students can take the classes they want, as it is much more flexible from a scheduling perspective. New courses are being added to the curriculum, including two new advanced placement courses which you can read more about by clicking here.
However, shifting to a new system requires careful planning to ensure that the schedule is implemented smoothly. A number of students at PPBHS have been concerned about the new schedule, and there’s been some misinformation regarding how it will be implemented. Most misconceptions surround Lunch & Learn, in particular how science labs and AP courses will affect students’ lunch period. Students who have a lab science class before their lunch period will have a forty-minute lunch, as twenty minutes would be spent in class on labs. It is important to note that this will not be a daily occurrence as class periods will only fall adjacent to lunch once every four-day cycle.
The 60-minutes allotted for Lunch and Learn will allow for extra help to take place during the school day, which lets students with busy schedules to meet with their teachers during school hours to get the assistance they need. Clubs would also have the option to meet during Lunch & Learn, and students can visit with their guidance counselors to discuss their academics or work on college applications.
The announcement of the new schedule stirred concerns among parents and students. Sarah Kimack, a junior and honors student at PPBHS, has attended multiple public information sessions about the new schedule to express these worries. In a brief interview she expressed that, “My biggest concern is how ready the school is to adapt to any issues that may arise. While it is evident there has been a lot of planning for the new schedule there are many issues, such as the increase in traffic when all students have the same lunch period, that won’t be as simple to resolve.”
In response to this concern, we spoke with Mrs. Boska, a member of the master schedule research committee for the new schedule. She stated that while students would have lunch at the same time, traffic will be manageable thanks to the staggering of student departures and arrivals from school. A number of students will leave for lunch later due to science classes, clubs, or extra help. Other students with a lab science the period after lunch will return 20 minutes early to begin their labs. This staggering effect eliminates possible traffic jams and complications as many individual students would be traveling at different times. In addition, Algebra I and Advancement Placement classes will gain an additional ten minutes when they fall adjacent to Lunch & Learn. Therefore, some students will leave for lunch ten minutes later or return ten minutes earlier.
In preparation for any other issues that may arise, the staff and administration have been communicating with other schools that have implemented the rotate and drop schedule. The master schedule committee had multiple meetings with Manasquan High School, as they moved to the rotate and drop schedule this school-year (2018-2019). After Manasquan stated how beneficial their visit to Nutley HS proved to be for them, Mr. Karcich contacted an administrator at Nutley to request a site visit. A group of teachers, counselors and administrators visited Nutley High School to speak with the staff there and see how the schedule works for their teachers and students. This allowed them to identify potential problems, and learn from the experiences of other schools. Ultimately, we can’t foresee every potential hiccup or bump in the road, but after a few years of careful planning, research, and preparation, PPBHS’s administration is ready to resolve any conflict that may arise.
We also reached out to the Director of Guidance, Mrs. Ferlauto, because she has had close to a decade of experience with the rotate and drop schedule in the last school she worked at. In an interview, she expressed that there are a myriad of reasons why the rotate and drop schedule has become so popular, especially in New Jersey high schools. “If it wasn’t effective or beneficial to the students, high schools would not have adopted the rotate and drop schedule. On the contrary, more schools are implementing this schedule because it is the most optimal solution to many scheduling conflicts,” Mrs. Ferlauto explained.
Finally, we met with Principal Karcich, who feels confident about the new schedule and is excited to see all of the months of hard work be realized. Mr. Karcich explained, “There are many student benefits in the new schedule but I am most excited about all the opportunities it will offer to students. Students will have the ability to take an eighth class without having to be at school fifty-minutes earlier than other students as they do now. Students will also have expanded course options to choose from (including career-based electives) and they will be more likely to actually get the course of their choice due to the increased flexibility of the rotate and drop schedule.”
Ultimately, these changes are a step towards creating a more flexible schedule and giving students the freedom to choose interesting and diverse courses, challenge themselves, and prepare for success in life after high school.