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Rancho Santa Fe School District considers middle school bell schedule change

Superintendent David Jaffe is considering changing the middle school schedule to allow for more elective opportunities and a study hall.
(Karen Billing)

Rancho Santa Fe School District Superintendent David Jaffe is considering adjustments the middle school bell schedule. The changes are proposed to address more elective options for students and to provide a study hall for academic support within the school day.

“One of the areas we’re looking at is how do we provide a schedule that gives kids more opportunity within the context of the day to meet with their teachers and really address on a more personal level the areas that they’re challenged in, “ Jaffe said at the April 6 board meeting.

By adapting the elective schedule, they can provide more programs within the school day — for example, currently some music programs meet at 7 a.m. before school starts. Jaffe said by the time the day ends, with homework, that’s a pretty long day. He said they will look at providing specialty programs within the day as well as allowing a time for teachers to connect with students.

Jaffe said one of the main concerns he has heard about the change is about losing time in class as the schedule would shift from 225 minutes of instructional time to 195 minutes, plus the study hall. Before coming to Rowe, Jaffe oversaw changes to the bell schedules at middle schools and high schools in San Dieguito Union High School District when he was principal at Torrey Pines High School.

What he saw was when they reduced class time, they actually had higher performance because there was less downtime. Before the bell schedule change, Torrey Pines had 180 hours of instructional time versus Canyon Crest Academy’s 135 minutes and CCA’s level of achievement was slightly higher.

“The question becomes is it seat time that’s more important or the quality of instruction and it really is the instruction,” Jaffe said.

For the proposed middle school study hall, students would be assigned to a home room teacher and during that time could receive support for another class, work in groups or study independently. Board member Sarah Neal said she would like to incorporate study skills and lessons in planning and time management so that it’s more guided. Jaffe agreed: “It’s not free time.”

RSF School Board President Todd Frank said before the board moved forward, he would want to hear reflection from the teachers and ensure that it’s not just “change for change’s sake.”


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