By Lani Tunzi
In the 5½ years I’ve attended Eagle Rock Junior/Senior High School, almost every new school year has come with a new bell schedule, some with seven periods meeting each day, others with eight, some with two breaks, others with one.
This year, we’ve returned to one of the most favored bell schedules: An eight-period block that starts at 7:54 a.m., ends at 2:46 p.m. and has four 96-minute class periods daily, with periods 1-to-4 meeting on “green” days and periods 5-to-8 meeting on “grey” days.
And yet, the school now finds itself facing yet another possible new bell schedule for the 2020-21 school year. This time, however, the school community is fighting back.
On December 12, I joined ERHS Principal Mylene Keipp, two ERHS English teachers and seven other students from ERHS at the LAUSD Board of Education to advocate saving the current schedule. Our appearances at the BOE came after many discussions and meetings among ERHS staff, students and parents, many of whom have individually contacted LAUSD about keeping the eight-block format.
The benefits of maintaining the schedule are enormous. It is conducive to focus and information retention. It includes course-preparation time for teachers. It allows for an abundance of foreign language, art and Career and Technical Education courses within the school day, as well as the opportunity to use the 8th period to retake a course, if needed, rather than attend summer school or complete the course online.
Another important feature of the schedule is its adherence to the format and guidelines of the International Baccalaureate program – a rigorous academic curriculum offered at ERHS.
The main argument against maintaining the eight-period block is that it will require hiring five additional teachers. Ultimately, the money to hire more teachers has to come from LAUSD.
ERHS is not the only school facing this problem. Wilson High School in El Sereno and Fairfax High School in the Fairfax District, both of which have International Baccalaureate programs, would also need to hire more teachers to keep the eight-period block. The total cost for the three schools would come to about $1.3 million.
The fate of our bell schedule is still to be determined, with more discussions between the schools and LAUSD expected in January. Here’s to hoping that LAUSD will come to agree that the eight-block schedule is the best way to go.
Lani Tunzi is a senior at Eagle Rock High School.