BURLINGTON – The current bell schedule at Burlington High School (BHS) is not meeting the needs of the district, so a plan has been put forth to make some necessary adjustments.

BHS Principal Mark Sullivan recently briefed the School Committee on the bell schedule change that is expected to be implemented in September 2020.

A BHS Schedule Committee was created last year, which included district staff, parents and students, and its purpose was to solicit feedback from all parties involved and research the best practices and goals to be considered in a revised schedule.

Two schedules were proposed, with one being chosen as the final iteration, which took a whole year to devise.

“It took an entire year to create a schedule that works with all the logistical components that exist at BHS,” commented Principal Sullivan, noting some of those components, such as adequate prep time for outside (vocational) services that were previously difficult to accommodate in the existing bell schedule.

With the final iteration of the schedule revealed this past April 24, Sullivan confirmed 85 percent of the district’s staff voted in favor of it.

“The plan is to make sure staff has plenty of time to make the transition in September 2020,” explained Sullivan. “There will be longer class blocks, meaning that all classes will be 60 minutes and no classes will be 44 minutes – as has been the case.”

There will be five classes per day, instead of seven, but there will still be seven total classes taken each semester by students. Home-room will be eliminated so there will be four extra minutes for the first class of the day. Going from seven to five classes a day will allow more time for other objectives and opportunities for students. The 7-day class cycle will be rotate during the school week.

Sullivan detailed there will be “flex periods” for students, allowing them the chance to meet with teachers for tutoring or making up a test, intervention, enrichment, general instructional support, and even use the BHS fitness center.

“I think it will be a good change,” Sullivan suggested. “The intent is to improve the learning experience for students and staff annually.”

Under the parameters of the new schedule, students would get out of school at 2:50 p.m. rather than 3:05 p.m.

School Committee Chair Martha Simon echoed her colleagues’ favorable opinions on the schedule change and specifically mentioned all the work that went into this initiative.

“I applaud the process and preparation you have taken with your staff,” Simon said, in praise to Sullivan. “It is a lot of work and hard decisions had to be made.”

The conversation was considered a first reading and with the bell schedule change not being implemented until September 2020, expect the School Committee to formally vote on it at an upcoming meeting.

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