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APS announces high school schedule change

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Students will see their teachers more often and Albuquerque Public Schools will save $4.6 million under a new high school class schedule for 2015-16.

Under the current schedule, students see their teachers three days a week. Based on the new schedule announced Friday, students will have:

■ Seven 50-minute class periods on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

■ Four 90-minute class periods on Wednesdays.

■ Three 90-minute class periods on Thursdays. On that day, they will be dismissed early at 12:55 p.m. to allow teachers to collaborate with their colleagues.

Other than the early release on Thursday, the students’ days will begin and end at roughly the same time as the current schedule.

“We believe that the new schedule will provide the best chance for students to have more success academically because they will see teachers in their core English and math classes four days each week,” said Todd Resch, APS associate superintendent for high schools, in a news release.

In recent weeks, APS officials have talked publicly about changing the high school schedules. They said the current schedule — in which students have 90-minute-plus class periods four days a week — did not produce the academic benefits they hoped for when it was put in place during the 2009-10 school year.

The new schedule is different from two schedules the district proposed earlier this month.

Resch said the district decided on this schedule because it would allow students to still have some longer class periods — which are good for activities like science labs — while also allowing them to have their core classes more frequently.

“The primary reason the district is changing the schedule is to improve student outcomes and increase graduation rates,” Resch said.

Under one of the proposed schedules not selected, there would have been seven 51-minute class periods seven days a week and students would have been released early on Wednesdays.

The other proposed schedule called for 51-minute class periods three days a week and 85-minute class periods two days a week. Students would have had an early release on those two days.

Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, said teachers are concerned about the timing of the change. She said it was late to propose a new schedule for next year and the switch could be “chaotic.”

APS officials said the new schedule will save the district money because it will require teachers to teach six periods rather than five, which they do under the current schedule. This was also true of the proposed schedule changes.

Because teachers will teach more classes, the district’s staffing costs will decrease and create a savings, according to the district. “We’re looking at dissolving positions, not people,” Resch told the Journal.

Teacher layoffs are not expected; “instead, the savings will come from not filling positions that are currently vacant and by not replacing some teachers who are retiring,” the news release said.

The savings might be especially important to APS next year because the district faces a projected $20.4 million budget shortfall for the 2015-16 school year.