SD 42 reviewing class schedules

Superintendent Jan Unwin not pleased with coordinated linear timetable

School District No. 42 is conducting a review of its class scheduling, just three years after switching to a coordinated timetable – a move that sparked student protests across the district.

Superintendent Jan Unwin said the district has hired a consultant to review all schedules and timetables, to look at ways of improving learning, reducing absenteeism, and saving money.

“We know we aren’t going to please everyone, but if we move to anything different, we want to have the research to back it up,” she said.

“These are tighter times, so we have to make sure we are making smart decisions.”

The district adopted the coordinated linear timetable for all secondary schools in 2008 under former superintendent John Simpson. That move sparked outrage by students and teachers at the time, who felt the move was made without proper consultation.

Unwin said she was, and continues to be unhappy with the move to the coordinated timetable.

“For some students, semesters work better,” she said. “For some classes, semesters work better. They should have that option.”

Currently, secondary students take eight courses for the entire length of the school year. Class starts at precisely 8:28 a.m., with lunch running from 11:11 to 11:49 a.m. before school lets out at 2:37 p.m.

One option the district is considering is moving to a coordinated bell schedule at all schools, that would allow each secondary school the autonomy to choose either a linear, semester, or quarterly curriculum.

“If it was set up with four blocks per day, you could just combine the blocks,” said Unwin.

However, Unwin said a move to balanced year-round schedule, like that already in place at Kanaka Creek elementary, would be unlikely.

“If we heard from the consultant there was an overwhelming desire for it, then we would obviously consider it,” she said. “But my feeling is that it is too much of a change for this community at this time.

“But from an educational perspective, would it be better? Absolutely.”

Unwin said she chose to hire a consultant to conduct the review, rather than staff, in order to gain an outside perspective on the issue.

The expense came out of her $40,000 annual discretionary budget, but will cost much less than that, she said.

Unwin said she expects the consultant’s report back by early March at the latest.