SDUHSD continues to look at bell schedules, flexible start times

By Karen Billing

Bell schedules and start times will be one of the main areas of focus for the 2014-15 school year in the San Dieguito Union High School District, said an official at the Oct. 16 board meeting.

Jason Viloria, executive director of educational services, said the district is evaluating what works best for students and schools and each school site will continue discussions with staff, parents and kids throughout the year.

The district has listed priorities such as having enough teacher collaboration and planning time, making sure access to electives are not limited because of schedules and having intervention and enrichment time available for students.

As an example, Carmel Valley Middle School has PAW (Productive Academic Work) time and HIRE (Homework Intervention Reteach Enrichment) time dedicated to give students extra help.

Some campuses already have flexible start times, allowing students to arrive earlier or later depending on their needs. At Diegueno Middle School and Carmel Valley Middle School, about 400 students at each school opt to come at 7:30 a.m. and the rest come at 8:30 a.m.

The bell schedule conversation ties into the work of the district’s recently formed High School Enrollment Study Group, as Superintendent Rick Schmitt said that bell schedules are always the top reason why high schoolers pick one school over another.

Schmitt said the district has a hard deadline of January if it decides to do anything regarding changing bell schedules at its four comprehensive high schools.

The enrollment group had 104 parent applicants and 15 were selected to serve on the committee, according to Assistant Superintendent Michael Grove. They tried to balance members by ZIP code, made sure each school was represented and have a mix of parents with elementary-school-age children and some with students already enrolled in high school.

Applicants had opinions across the map about what the district should do, he said.

“We selected people with a variety of perspectives because that is the intent, to make sure all the voices are heard,” Grove said.

Staff members and students are also on the committee, including those who did not get into their school choice.

The group will look at all the potential ways SDUHSD can enroll students in its schools, seek input from the community on the options, and present options and information to the school board to make a decision.