Trumbull school board approves high school schedule revamp

Trumbull High School - The Superintendent of Schools confirmed that masks will no longer be required in Trumbull schools after Feb. 28 2022, but will still be required on school buses.

Trumbull High School - The Superintendent of Schools confirmed that masks will no longer be required in Trumbull schools after Feb. 28 2022, but will still be required on school buses.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — By the 2023-24 school year, the schedule at Trumbull High School could look radically different, with longer class periods, more time for electives and a variety of other changes.

At Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, Jonathan Costa, assistant executive director of EdAdvance, one of Connecticut's six Regional Educational Service Centers gave a presentation on changing Trumbull High's schedule. Costa said he had been working with the school's staff on a way to make the school day more efficient and more beneficial for teachers and students.

He said the current schedule has seven educational periods, plus a lunch period, every day. First period is 50 minutes long, the rest are 48 minutes long and, in most cases, every class meets every day.

"It is a pretty traditional, old-time schedule that has a lot of inefficiency baked into it and that really was the focus of (our) deliberations over time," he said.  

Some of the inefficiencies include the 48-minute lunch period that into class instruction time, and students spending too much time in homeroom, passing in between classes and other activities that don't involve classroom instruction. Also, he said, the fairly static seven periods of classroom instruction don't give students much opportunity to try various electives.

"We believe that updating the schedule will have health and wellness benefits for students, increase their academic opportunities and give students more choices over the courses they take and the pathways of study they create for themselves over their four years at Trumbull High," Costa said.

The discussion over the school schedule began in 2019, initially as a conversation about changing school start times. But, Costa said, it evolved as "everyone recognized ... the current high school schedule left a lot to be desired."

In his presentation, Costa recommended moving to an eight period, drop two schedule. That means students could choose up to eight courses, but would only attend six every day. Classes would rotate on a daily basis for many students.

For instance, a student might attend classes one through six on Monday, then go to classes 1,2,3,4,7 and 8 on Tuesday and shift to 1,2,5,6,7 and 8 on Wednesday and so on.

Class periods would be 59 minutes instead of 48. The only exception would be the lunch period, which include 63 minutes of class instruction and a 30-minute lunch.

This model would add about 22 minutes of instructional time, without lengthening the school day. Students also would have more options and time, he said.

Student board member Elizabeth Steeves commended the proposed schedule. She said, under the current schedule, it can be tough for students to take all the classes they want or even need. She said she had some friends in the agriscience program, for example, who have had to choose between taking a world language and having a lunch period.

Steeves lamented that, because she's a senior at Trumbull High, she wouldn't be able to take advantage of the flexibility it offered in taking classes.

"I'm super jealous," she said.

Costa said the new schedule has some challenges, as it would require additional staff. There also would be a cost associated with changing the schedule — a net increase of $80,000. 

After the presentation, the board unanimously voted to move to the new schedule for the 2023-24 school year, though board chair Lucinda Timpanelli pointed out the decision ultimately lies with administrators at Trumbull High.

"This is an administrative decision and I agree with whatever they want to do," she said.