The future of bell schedules


Design by Caroline Judd

Bell schedules differ at each Parkway high school, West being the only schedule that does not incorporate an Academic Lab.

Students stay after school hoping their teacher hasn’t left before their question is answered, teachers working at multiple schools fly into the parking lot to make the bell and members of off-campus programs struggle to make schedules line up. As each Parkway high school operates within a different schedule, such problems and inconsistencies occur daily.

Parkway allows each of its four high schools to create its own bell schedule that its teachers and administrators find most beneficial. Since 1998, West has operated on a ‘hybrid schedule.’ This consists of A days, which include every class, as well as B and C days. 

“The philosophy behind it is that teachers are allowed to teach curriculum in blocks of time that best accommodates the curriculum,” counselor Chris Lorenz said. “So it’s the regular 50 minute period every day because [some] teachers prefer that daily contact, versus lab or project-based classes [which] prefer blocked time.”

Initially, the hybrid schedule was successful in allowing teachers to teach classes in their preferred ways. However, in recent years, constraints have been put on the schedule.

SPARK! and different pull out programs put pressure on where classes have to be,” Lorenz said. “More student requests are being met if there is more manipulation of who gets blocked and who gets regular.”

The challenging nature of the hybrid schedule presents difficulty to student requests, which contributes to the overall issue of students not being scheduled for their preferred classes. 

“I think there are definitely challenges with our schedule,” counselor Jennifer Wibbenmeyer said. “Our success rate of students that, once we put in their requests, have a complete schedule is lower than the other high schools.”

The three other Parkway high schools operate on Academic Lab (AC Lab) schedules. With this type of scheduling, students have a built in study hall that provides time to ask questions and complete work. Assistant Principal and former Parkway South administrator Corey Sink found AC Labs promoted student success.

“I did find it beneficial for students because it gave them time during the day to meet with their teachers,” Sink said. “Teachers could also pull together groups of students at one time who needed extra time with the same concept [or] target.”

As AC Lab schedules were introduced in other schools, Principal Jeremy Mitchell found that students at West did not want a built in study hall within their schedules.

“The theory behind the hybrid schedule is that we’re not going to force you, but if you want to have a study hall, that gives you the opportunity,” Mitchell said. “You can graduate with your peers and not have to do summer school even if you [take a study hall each semester] and pass everything.”

While Mitchell has recognized problems throughout the years with hybrid scheduling, he said no changes will be made specifically by West. 

“I don’t think there will be a sole West High decision; we aren’t going to make a quick change knowing there will be a bigger change,” Mitchell said. “I’m going to guess within the next five years, the district will have a common high school schedule.”