Watertown High will wait on new day schedule

Later start time will begin in fall, but new weekly schedule postponed until September 2019


In a recent history class filled with juniors at Watertown High, the topic of the new weekly class schedule was brought up. When the teacher asked the students how they felt about the fact that the schedule was change was being postponed, the class became quiet for a second — and then the whole class cheered. The students talked about how they were glad that next year’s schedule would remain the same.

The Watertown Public Schools are moving to a later school start in the fall of 2018. Because of that, Watertown High School saw an opportunity to change its daily class schedule at the same time. The current seven-day schedule with a floating block has been in use at WHS for decades, although no other school system is known to use it.  

I listened to what the teachers had to say and agreed that the timing wasn’t right to change the schedule.

— WHS principal Shirley Lundberg

The past winter, a scheduling committee made up of WHS faculty and staff was organized to investigate new schedule possibilities. A five-day schedule featuring longer blocks twice a week was chosen.

However, in the end of May, principal Shirley Lundberg decided to keep the current day schedule for 2018-19, and then switch to the new schedule in 2019-20.

“I listened to what the teachers had to say and agreed that the timing wasn’t right to change the schedule with all the changes that are already happening,” Principal Lundberg said.

In addition to the later start times across Watertown, there are changes and improvements happening with the PowerTeacher Pro system the WHS teachers use, and co-teaching will be expanded.

There were a lot of changes are happening at once, Principal Lundberg said.

With the year’s postponement, the school can work out any bugs in the new schedule and can also have specific training for the new long blocks in the weekly schedule.

Principal Lundberg said in the past five years or so, the superintendents found research stating that later start times do benefit teenagers in the learning process. She also said a number of other schools are moving to later start times in the fall. (The WHS school day will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.)

For WHS juniors, the schedule delay will mean they won’t have to learn a new schedule before graduation.

“I am really glad that they decided to not change the schedule,” said Bandna Kaur. “I can’t imagine sitting in one class for 76 minutes.”

Said Christine Zhu, “I am happy that the schedule isn’t going to change because the [new] schedule was confusing. It made little sense to me and I personally like the schedule we have now.”

Teachers were also happy to hear about the delay.

“I think hitting the pause button on the schedule is a smart idea,” said WHS English teacher Jennie Pleat. “At the same time, there is never a good time for change. I think people would have adapted if it were in place for the fall, but ultimately it is a smart decision.”

–June 14, 2018–