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The Campanile

The Campanile

Late-start Monday Policy has unclear purpose, poor communication

Late-start+Monday+Policy+has+unclear+purpose%2C+poor+communication

In an effort to increase collaboration time so teachers can review student academic progress and discuss curriculum improvements, PAUSD has adopted a new late-start schedule for six Mondays throughout the year. At Paly, classes will begin at 10:15 a.m on these days, all seven periods will meet, and they will be 35 minutes long.

The Campanile thinks this schedule, with the additional hour of time in the morning for more sleep for students and productive collaboration time for teachers, could benefit everyone. 

Principal Brent Kline told The Campanile the main objective of the late start days is to help teachers align their teaching goals and assess their students on a monthly basis. And while their teachers are working, students can engage in a gradual sleep reset by easing into the rest of the week with the late start. 

The Campanile also views the shorter class periods on these days as a welcome departure from the routine of ambiguous 45-minute periods, which students find too short to fully focus on a lesson or test but also too long for a quick check-in. Thirty-five minutes is a happy medium where students can use the time to meet with peers or catch up on work for the upcoming, longer block periods.

Although the district’s proposal of the new schedule initially appears to be a good idea, a closer look shows its execution and how it might play could have several downsides. The district does not seem to prioritize student interest or even the families of younger elementary and middle schoolers with this schedule. 

There are many high school students who have sports practice, zero period or use the library in the mornings before school. The new schedule provides an awkward window of time in between practice or classes for these students. Meanwhile, parents of younger children will have to find new childcare arrangements or daycare options if their young children won’t be supervised on school campus until much later in the morning. 

There are also various unanswered questions stemming from the district’s lack of transparency and communication about the purpose of these days. There was no school-wide announcement about the schedule change last year and most students remain unaware of the details. The president of the Teacher Union and the Palo Alto Educators Association told The Campanile the PAEA members were surprised by the number of late start Mondays in the schedule and teachers did not have a say in the matter.

This has led to a swirl of misinformation and confusion about how the new schedule fulfills state-mandated instructional minutes and what the deeper purpose behind the staff development time will be. Even many teachers whom The Campanile spoke to said they didn’t know until recently what they would be doing on these days.

The Campanile urges the district to develop a system to track the effectiveness of these late-start days, especially with input from the staff, to determine the true validity of this additional collaboration time. For future changes, we’d like to see administrators communicate more clearly and quickly to staff and students at each school about the whens and whys of schedule change. 

Involving groups like the Bell Schedule Committee when making these adjustments would help increase overall satisfaction with other schedule changes. While the district has come up with a new schedule that they say supports the needs of teachers and students, they should continue to consider the subsequent consequences any change to future schedules bring to the student body, both in terms of the way they are announced and carried out.

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