Bell schedule changes are coming for LAHS

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By Jennifer Garcia

With the coming school year, Los Alamos High School students have more to look forward to than new teachers. A new bell schedule will also be part of their day when school begins in August.
The instructional day will begin at 7:50 a.m., instead of the current time of 8:10 a.m. This means that high school students will get a 20-minute jump on their school day. Though this might not appeal to some students who would prefer a later start time, there is a perk to starting the day earlier: regularly scheduled classes for students will end at 2:35 p.m., instead of the current end-time of 3:10 p.m.
However, there will be an optional academic or enrichment period to follow, from 2:40-3:10 p.m. that may be used to get a jump-start on homework. According to a Los Alamos Public Schools press release, “during that time, students will have the opportunity to participate in meetings, enrichment activities and Tier II interventions that high school staff refers to ‘academic assistance’ time.”
There are three tiers of intervention to help
students who are struggling keep up with their classmates. Schmidt said academically, 80 percent of students fall into the first tier, while approximately 15 percent fall under Tier II. This tier is for students who struggle with a certain subject or concept, but can grasp the concept with a little bit of help. Tier III is designed for more intensive one-on-one work with students who are having difficulty grasping certain concepts taught in class.
In addition, students will have an earlier lunchtime. Instead of the current release time of 12:40 p.m., students will instead have an 11:15-11:50 a.m. lunch period.
“We’re getting kids to a meal earlier in the day,” LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt said. He also mentioned that downtown merchants will find that the high school students will be in and out of their businesses before the main lunch rush begins at noon.
“There are so many positives (to the schedule change),” Schmidt said.
The press release further stated that the bus schedules will not be changed, nor will the bell schedule impact the A and B schedules, which meet on alternate days.
The changes to the bell schedule allow new flexibility to the school day while continuing to comply with the number of hours needed to constitute a school day and year.
In addition, periods 1A and 1B will become 4A and 4B. Flipping these periods will help students keep more current with their classes, if involved in after school activities and will enable those students to reduce the amount of missed class at the end of the school day.
“The change in the school day was motivated by a number of positive factors, including the opportunity to create academic assistance time for students,” Schmidt said. “Academic assistance time creates an opportunity for student tutoring, making up tests, student enrichment, RTI/SAT/IEP meetings, times for clubs to meet and many more.”
Schmidt said the change in schedule came about because of a number of things the community is asking of the school district, some of which include how to end the day early because of clubs, athletics and other after school activities. He also said another perk to beginning the day early is that students will not have much down time when they arrive at school in the morning. “We’ll get them off the bus and put them in the classroom,” he said.
Schmidt also said a lot of good planning and creative thinking by high school staff contributed to this new instructional schedule.  
“Los Alamos High School Principal Sandy Warnock, LAHS Economics Teacher Brian Easton and others deserve our gratitude for the many hours invested in the design of the high school schedule,” Schmidt said.
There is no change to either the elementary or middle school start and end times.

The new bell schedule

7:30-7:50 a.m.: Teacher time
7:50-9:25 a.m.: Period 1A/B class
(95 minutes)
Passing (10 minutes)
9:35-11:15 a.m.: Period 2A/B class
(100 minutes)
11:15-11:50 a.m.: Lunch
Passing (10 minutes)
Noon-1:35 p.m.: Period 3A/B (95 minutes)
Passing (10 minutes)
1:45-2:35 p.m.: Period 4A/B (50  minutes)
2:40-3:10 p.m.: Academic assistance time
3:10-3:15 p.m.: Teacher time