New rolling block schedule beneficial for students

January 24, 2016 — by Neil Rao

Finishing homework for seven classes, participating in extracurricular activities like sports and clubs, studying for tests and still enjoying the weekend has become a pipe dream for many students, especially those feeling the pressure to gain admission to the UCs, Ivy League schools or the equivalent.

But with the implementation of the new rolling block schedule next year, this balancing act will be — though not completely solved — a little easier to manage.

Initially, the Schedule Advisory Committee presented its proposed schedule revision for Saratoga during a Jan. 12 district meeting. The revision included some controversial features, such as a 8:40 a.m. start time and a reduction in classroom minutes, which sparked an intense negative reaction among many in the parent community.

In response to these concerns and the possibility that the new schedule may not fulfill the state’s requirement for classroom instructional minutes, the school chose to adopt Los Gatos High’s bell schedule.  

This new schedule will still split each week into odd and even block days. First, third, fifth and seventh period will be held on odd days; second, fourth, and sixth period will be held on even days. The first Monday of the new school year will be an odd day; from then on, odd and even days will alternate every week.

In addition, the school day will start 20 minutes later, at 8:10 a.m. instead of  7:50 a.m. School will end at 3:45 p.m. for those with a seventh period on odd days, and at 2:10 for those without. Tutorial will be held every day for 35 minutes.

This new schedule, however, invites student frustration; the schedule would have delayed school start time by 50 minutes, whereas under Los Gatos’ schedule, school would only start 25 minutes later. In addition, lunch will now be five minutes shorter than it is now — 35 minutes instead of 40.

The original plan, which aligned with the district’s goal of reducing student stress, was well-received by many students, but strongly opposed by vocal parents.

Fortunately, the Los Gatos schedule preserves key elements of the original schedule. One such feature is the adoption of full rolling block, which means that students will have a maximum of four classes per day. This means that students will not have to suffer through the “Monday Rush” or “Sunday Crunch” to finish homework for seven classes. This change alone will benefit many students.

In addition, although the original proposed schedule would have been more effective in reducing student stress, the Los Gatos schedule still achieves this goal, as it still gives students an additional 20 minutes of sleep and a highly beneficial 35 minutes of tutorial every day.

Under the new schedule, students will also be able to have a regular eating schedule, because lunch will be held every day at noon. Currently, lunch times vary from 11:15 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays to 12:15 a.m. on Wednesdays; students are often hungry halfway through fifth period on those days.

Some teachers and parents have argued that students will not learn as much in the shorter class periods, since both the original proposed and the Los Gatos schedule reduce instructional time; however, the original proposed schedule had 85-minute periods, whereas the Los Gatos schedule has 90-minute periods.

Others worry that since classes will only meet twice a week every other week, students in language classes may suffer from the lack of immersion. But in actuality, the new system allows students to have more productive class time than they did under the old schedule. During the 47-minute class periods on Monday, students often wasted class periods since there is not enough time to actually begin lectures or labs for their classes.

While the new schedule has caused controversy and exposed divisions in the community, it is clear that the new schedule still helps students the most — and students are, after all, those who need the most help. Although the Los Gatos schedule is not as revolutionary nor as beneficial as the original proposed schedule, it is still a clear upgrade from the current situation.