Block schedule passes in staff vote, potential for change


Kevin Lynch, Editor-in-Chief

On Dec. 19-21, staff voted on whether to continue with the A/B block schedule that Prospect has employed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic or to return to the traditional eight-period schedule. The vote returned with 84 votes for the block schedule and 55 votes for the eight-period schedule, with the block schedule passing the needed threshold of 60 percent of votes — one stipulated in teachers’ contract as necessitated by the “change in working conditions” caused by the new schedule — by a margin of one vote.

According to English teacher and Head Building Representative for the Education Association Timothy McDermott, every staff member took part in the vote, which comes as the end of the 22-23 school year will mark the end of the block schedule’s initial two-year pilot program. The results of the decision will be in effect for the foreseeable future, barring a final decision from administration — a stipulation that has existed since the very start of the process. 

During the institute day on Monday, Jan. 9, McDermott says, staff was informed that administration had not yet made its decision on whether it would choose to continue with the block schedule or return to an eight-period schedule, with an ultimate decision to be released by the end of the month. 

McDermott says that attendance issues, behavioral problems and lower test scores were all cited as factors that administrators would consider when making the decision, in addition to the staff’s vote and surveys sent out to parents and students in the past week. Research is also now being done by the school on the effectiveness of the block schedule, though McDermott adds that none has been provided to staff when the teachers’ union has requested data on this issue in the past.

While the block and eight-period schedules are both options at administration’s disposal, McDermott says that a new, third schedule can also be pitched to staff, though this would be more difficult as it would mean effectively restarting the current process.

The decision must be made by the end of the month, McDermott says, in order to give counselors time to construct the master schedule for next school year.